California Initiative Puts Profit Ahead of Science

Proposition 37 props up profits for organic growers and denies the scientific consensus in favor of biotech crops.

An initiative mandating that foods containing genetically modified organisms carry warning labels has made it onto the ballot in California. Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act initiative, is an anti-science campaign that flies in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus that genetically modified foods are safe and healthy. Corporate sponsors are working closely with unaccountable special interest groups in a disinformation campaign designed to frighten and confuse voters.

The Proposition 37 petition asserts that “genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.” All of these claims, quoted from the findings and declarations section of the initiative, are solidly contradicted by the scientific consensus regarding biotech crops.

In a 2004 report, Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reviewed and compared the unintended consequences of conventional, mutagenic, and biotech plant breeding. The NAS report noted that all types of plant breeding—conventional, mutagenic, and biotech—could on rare occasions produce crops with unintended consequences. However, the report concluded, “The process of rDNA [biotech breeding] is itself not inherently hazardous.”

What about the claim that biotech breeding is “an imprecise process”? Not so says the NAS report. Conventional breeding transfers thousands of unknown genes with unknown functions along with desired genes, and mutation breeding induces thousands of random mutations via chemicals or radiation. In contrast, the NAS report notes, “Genetic engineering methods are considered by some to be more precise than conventional breeding methods because only known and precisely characterized genes are transferred.”

Any adverse health consequences? After reviewing all the scientific evidence, the NAS report concluded, “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” In 2003, the International Council for Science (ICSU) representing 111 national academies of science and 29 scientific unions issued a report declaring, “Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat.” The ICSU pointedly added, “There is no evidence of any ill effects from the consumption of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.” With regard to eating foods made from biotech crops, the World Health Organization flatly states, “No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

At its annual meeting in June, the American Medical Association endorsed a report on the labeling of bioengineered foods from its Council on Science and Public Health. The report found that, “Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.” The AMA report further noted, “Despite strong consumer interest in mandatory labeling of bioengineered foods, the FDA’s science-based labeling policies do not support special labeling without evidence of material differences between bioengineered foods and their traditional counterparts. The Council supports this science-based approach….” Every independent scientific body that has ever evaluated the safety of current biotech crop varieties has found them to be as safe or even safer than conventional crop varieties.

So who is funding this pack of lies? The petition for Proposition 37 was filed and launched by notorious trial lawyer James Wheaton. The corporations that back the initiative include Nature’s Path, which sells $300 million worth of organic cereals annually and has pledged $500,000 to the anti-science campaign and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, a private company with revenues of $50 million annually derived from peddling organic soaps and has given $300,000. The biggest donor is Mercola Health Resources run by Chicago osteopath and self-styled alternative medicine guru Joseph Mercola, who promotes his sketchy supplements through his online health newsletter. Mercola has donated $800,000 to the campaign.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has spent $635,000 promoting the initiative. OCA lists no donors on its 2010 IRS Form 990 and apparently gets most of its $1.3 million in revenues from phone solicitations contracted out to the Hudson Bay Company of Illinois based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lundberg Family Farms, with revenues of nearly $50 million from selling organic rice, has committed $200,000 to the campaign. Among the activist groups favoring Proposition 37, is the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), which is part of an anti-science coalition jumpstarted with a $1 million grant from Mercola. Among other claims, the IRT suggests that eating foods made from biotech crops is a cause of autism

The traditional anti-biotech environmentalist groups have piled on and endorsed Proposition 37 as well, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Pesticide Action Network, and the Sierra Club. Shoving science aside, the California Democratic Party has formally endorsed Proposition 37. In particular, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who insists on the accepting the scientific consensus concerning climate change, rejects it with regard to the safety of biotech crops and supports anti-science when it comes to Proposition 37. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is also on board the pro-Proposition 37 bandwagon.

One other claim made in the Proposition 37 petition is that “90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering.” That is unfortunately about right. And why not? After all, profitmongering organic foods purveyors and scaremongering environmentalists have been spreading disinformation about the safety of biotech crops for more than two decades now.

However, there may less than meets the eye to those poll results. The citizens of the European Union are supposed to be especially averse to biotech crops. However, a new European Commission report, A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research, finds that polls may not be a good way to evaluate actual consumer attitudes toward foods made with biotech crops. The researchers found that despite strongly negative polls, when it came to looking at the actual buying behavior, “most people do not actively avoid GM [genetically modified] food, suggesting that they are not greatly concerned with the GM issue.”

Based on scientific assessments the Food and Drug Administration only requires labels when a product raises safety or nutritional issues which clearly current foods using ingredients from biotech crops do not. Thus the agency is correct when it says that such labels would be "inherently misleading," and would "imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods." Of course, the whole point of Proposition 37 is to mislead with regard to the safety of biotech crops. The coalition anti-science campaigners want to mandate labels in this case because they hope that consumers would treat them as warning labels, turning away from perfectly safe and cheaper biotech and conventional foods toward pricier and more profitable organic fare. Of course, if people who have been suckered by organic fearmongering want to avoid biotech foods, they can simply purchase foods labeled organic now.

Although cloaking the Proposition 37 anti-science disinformation campaign in bogus health fears and alleged consumer choice concerns, the Organic Consumers Association Director Ronnie Cummins gives the game away in an open letter earlier this month. “The burning question for us all then becomes how—and how quickly—can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming?,” writes Cummins. Sadly many well-meaning Californians appear to have been duped by the promoters of Proposition 37, so that its corporate and special interest backers cynically calculate that an electoral victory in November will produce higher profits and more donations. Here is a real case of putting profits ahead of science.

Disclosure: I sold the few shares of Monsanto stock I bought with my own money years ago. As far as I know, I own no shares in any agricultural biotech company. Finally, I generally eat organic foods only when I am served them by others, e.g., by friends and at restaurants. They usually taste OK.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Proposition 37 petition asserts that “genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences..."

    I want to know if the food I'm eating is going to mutate me. I don't want to grow a second wang. Or do I...?

  • Brutus||

    "He'll be very popular."

    "That goes without saying."

  • Marshall Gill||

    is an anti-science campaign that flies in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus

    While I don't think that genetically modified foods pose any danger to mankind, this sentence does not instil me with confidence.

  • Ron Bailey||

    MG: What would instill you with confidence? Perhaps reading the numerous scientific evaluations to which I link in the article?

  • The Derider||

    He's been so thoroughly conditioned by the right wing echo chamber about global warming that he now associates "scientific consensus" with "wrong".

  • ||

    Oh joe, you're the stupidest anonypussy ever.

  • Brutus||

    Uh, Tony still posts here.

  • mnarayan||

    Yea. His name is t o n y. He's not really "anonymous".

  • ||

    Fortunately the left wing echo chamber will too associate "scientific consensus" with "wrong" as far as GM food goes.

    It's a win for sceptics and a loss for believers in scientism.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Fortunately the left wing echo chamber will too associate "scientific consensus" with "wrong" as far as GM food goes."

    Science that leads to discussion of how the government needs to regulate and meddle more = "Consensus, science is advancement and discovery and the Left Wing are the gatekeepers of that sacred flame, protecting it from the eeeeevil Republikkkinazis"

    Science that flies in the face of long-standing Leftist traditions and beliefs = "Corporate Lobbyists, and besides do you really trust all those evil, souless lab coats splicing your DNA and inserting microchips in your brain when we can all live like the Hopi Indians did instead?"

    You wanna see the perfect example of this sort of scientific doublethink, read Chris Mooney's glorified polemicism-parading-as-skepticism.

  • ||

    echo chamber about global warming that he now associates "scientific consensus" with "wrong".

    Eugenics and phrenology are excuse enough.

    Always distrust the robed elites who appeal to plurality rather then demonstrate with evidence.

  • Mr Whipple||

    And don't forget saccharin.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Ron, it is simply that the phrase "scientific consensus" is often used today as a weapon against divergent beliefs. When it comes to GM foods, I don't doubt that the science supports that they are safe. Other scientific "consensus" on the other hand....

  • The Derider||

    See! Called it.

  • ||

    Provable evidence is not the same thing as consensus.

    Go back and read your Greek philosophers joe.

    They figured this shit out over 2000 years ago.

    God forbid on a libertarian blog one might actually have a classical understanding of fallacy and logic.

    But I guess Plato was a Rush "ditto head" so we should not listen to him.

  • The Derider||

    Unless you're a climate scientist, you lack the requisite knowledge to evaluate "provable evidence".

    For guys like you and me, the scientific consensus is a far more accurate indicator of "truth" than whatever evidence World Net Daily cherrypicked last week.

    Actual climate scientists should base their decisions on the available evidence and not consensus, however.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider| 8.14.12 @ 6:39PM |#
    "Unless you're a climate scientist, you lack the requisite knowledge to evaluate "provable evidence"."
    Fail.

  • ||

    Not only do I doubt that you are a "climate scientist", I doubt that you are any kind of scientist at all.

    "There is a consensus among climate scientists that global warming is a fact" is in about the same category as "there is a consensus among Christian clergyman that Jesus Christ is our Savior."

    You and the rest of us are no better able to assess the truth of the "scientific consensus" than any other informed amateur is. For the most part we all rely on the reports made by journalists who have read nothing more than executive summaries of the research available. Except. of course, those who rely only on the sensationalist reports of self-interested advocates like Al Gore etc.

  • ||

    What is truly amusing is that "climate science" was originally something that was set up by the Thatcher government to crush the miners union, close down the money losing nationalized coal mines and increase subsidies for nuclear power.

    Politicized "science" will always end up biting its advocates in the arse, no matter which part of the political spectrum they reside in.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Hilarious! One minute he's 'calling it', then next he's throwing out the authority argument like his kind do ALL THE TIME.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I see your Plato and raise you an epistemological nihilist.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Oh, BTW, your axioms are wrong because there is no truth!

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "But I guess Plato was a Rush "ditto head" so we should not listen to him."

    OH, SOCRATIC SCHNAP

  • Bill||

    I assumed Ron did this on purpose. In fact I'm sure of it.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Gill, Consensus in science has its place when discussing something thoroughly understood, like Newtonian Mechanics. The is a consensus that this system works about 99% of the time. The failure modes are understood, as are the limits of the system. The consensus has been brought about by repeatable experimentation in controlled (laboratory) settings.

    When discussing GM, consensus makes sense. You get a few more lab mice, force feed em some more GM based corn kibble (or whatever) and look for their little dildos to fall off. In short, the impact of GM food has been subjected to repeatable experimentation under controlled conditions.

    The Global Warning issue does not have repeatable experiments that directly observe the warming. The repeatable results are based either on simulation, or observation of non-repeatable secondary effects like coast line erosion.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Oh, I agree. The term is just so misused today by the Malthusians that it set off my alarm.

  • Bill||

    I think that was the point. He chose those words deliberately.

  • The Derider||

    1) Climatologists do conduct repeatable experiments.
    2) The issues you identify are also central to Geology and Astronomy, are you a young-earth creationist too?

  • ||

    Climatologists do conduct repeatable experiments.

    Repeatable experiments which produce the "same" results (+- some stochastic effect)?

    The issues you identify are also central to Geology and Astronomy

    Are the predictions of Geology and Astronomy used to set global scale public policy?

  • The Derider||

    1)Yes, like experiments determining the insulating effect of CO2.

    2)Yes, Geology informs things like oil drilling policy, earthquake safety and building codes. Astronomy informs things like space exploration, SETI, and asteroid defense.

  • ||

    experiments determining the insulating effect of CO2

    Those are physics experiments, not climatological ones.

    Geology informs things like oil drilling policy, earthquake safety and building codes. Astronomy informs things like space exploration, SETI, and asteroid defense.

    None of them are on a scale even approaching the sheer amount of regulation flowing from labeling CO2 a pollutant.

  • The Derider||

    1) Climatology is INFORMED BY PHYSICS YOU DOLT
    2) So Climatology should be judged as a science because of its implications for regulation and not the veracity of its hypotheses? You're a complete hack, but at least you're honest about it.

  • ||

    Climatology is INFORMED BY PHYSICS YOU DOLT

    Experiments determining the insulating effect of CO2 are still physics experiments, not climatological ones.

    So Climatology should be judged as a science because of its implications for regulation and not the veracity of its hypotheses?

    Nope; climatology should be judged as a science because of the predictive powers of its theories to the extent they exist, not because of its implications for regulation.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Nope; climatology should be judged as a science because of the predictive powers of its theories to the extent they exist

    Which so far is nil.

  • Sevo||

    "Are the predictions of Geology and Astronomy used to set global scale public policy?"
    I see, derider, you avoided answering the question and started tossing around 'informed by X'.
    Sleazy, but expected.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Part IV
    The science has not really started collecting 'really good' data on a global scale until pretty recently. GOES was launched is less than 10 years ago. Records and agricultural records indicate Europe was warmer 1000 years ago than it is today. Scientific Work needs to be done before we demand nations spend billions.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Repeatable experiments which produce the "same" results (+- some stochastic effect)?

    Yes, this is the same problem with modern macroeconomics. Too many variables to accurately reproduce the conditions.

    And statistics. Well, what can I say about statistics that hasn't already been said?

    http://www.quotegarden.com/statistics.html

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Part I
    Much of cosmology is currently in turmoil. The number of theories sans young earth has been multiplying in recent years, spurred on by both real discoveries (Higgs boson) and mathematical modeling that is under heavy fire.

    Chemistry is a hard science with repeatable lab experiments. Astronomy is not in the same league, BUT, interestingly most of it such as the passing of Mercury across the Sun's corona, the perturbation of Neptune's Orbit by Pluto etc, begins to provide a basis for proving the mathematics that describes the phenomena.

    Climatology has a much tougher row to hoe. Bodies in orbit are a far less complex situation that we are confronted by when we start to examine the atmosphere. The Navier Stokes equations are non-linear (each dimension is directly interdependent upon the others) and the dynamics of the atmosphere are chaotic to boot (the order of the dynamics is not a whole number).

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Part II
    For over 10 thousand of years civilizations have looked at the sky and first thought the Earth was the center of the universe and the Sun was in orbit around us. We developed better technology and methods of observation and the evidence to move the Sun to the center of the Universe was amassed and we then confronted with the epicycles(sp?) or retrograde orbits.

    It was not until the Tyco Brahe's telescope that we had sound enough measurement systems to deduce that the orbits are not circular, but instead they are nearly circular ellipses. And it took Kepler pouring over Brahe's observations for years to do it. An ellipse about a point in space is a simple system.

    We currently do not have enough sound data over a long enough period of time to determine man's part in the Global Temperature. Does Man make a contribution. Yes. Can we measure it. Probably not yet. There are several technical issues that I have not seen anyone address yet.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Part III
    Observability Theory states that the components of a non-linear system cannot be directly separated. For this we need a better plant model, because the one they have been using has far too many 'dialable' parameters.

    Observations are subject to bias. Is a temperature guage in a refrigerator going to give you reasonable measurements? No. Neither is one in a parking lot. This are issues that are still being worked.

    If the overwhelming majority of your data collection is being performed by stations in the first world you have a lot of bias. Data collection for a global baseline (starting point) needs to truly global. Satellites have helped hugely but there are challenges with calibration, and the data is not as rich.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Part IV
    The science has not really started collecting 'really good' data on a global scale until pretty recently. GOES was launched is less than 10 years ago. Records and agricultural records indicate Europe was warmer 1000 years ago than it is today. Scientific Work needs to be done before we demand nations spend billions.

    *fuck the character limits*

  • Brandybuck||

    There's also the problem of what exactly the consensus is regarding. The media loves to portray it as all scientists being AGW alarmists worried that the oceans will rise eighteen feet if Republicans ever regain the White House, but that's most assuredly NOT what the consensus is about.

    Is the climate changing? The majority of scientists in the field say yes.

    Is it partly attributable to human activity. The majority of scientists in the field say yes.

    And that's pretty much it. There is not even consensus that this is a bad thing, let alone consensus on how green Greenland will become.

  • wareagle||

    what no one can demonstrate, through consensus or other means, is a correlation between change and man's activity. History is full of both warm and cool periods.

    Anytime I see "consensus" associated with science, it's a huge red flag. It is no different from saying "belief".

  • Bill||

    Not exactly. Most of the time a consensus in science is just the current state of understanding and there is no reason to keep saying there is a consensus.

    In some fields, as the current CAGW debate shows, the science has become politicized and non-scientists keep trying to push the idea of a consensus as a way to bolster their preferred policies.

  • ||

    Prop 37 is people!

  • Hyperion||

    Progessives are always for science, except for when they are against it.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Overwheming scientific consensus...
    An anti-science campaign against it...
    Corporate sponsors funding a disinformation campaign...
    Using the opinion of National Academy of Science to defend science...
    Sounds like climate change, and the disinformation campaign funded by the oil industry, right Ronald?

  • Ron Bailey||

    JandA: Goose/gander.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Apples and apples

  • The Derider||

    Does this mean you're going to preface every climate change article by calling all the deniers "anti-science"?

    Goose/Gander, right?

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: Nowadays I sometime refer to the "sides" in climate change controversy the same way they refer to one another, alarmists/deniers. Otherwise I use proponents versus opponents.

    One notable difference between climate change and biotech crops is that claims about the latter can be and have extensively been checked by experiments.

  • SugarFree||

    You really rattle the trolls' cages, Ron. Keep up the good work.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Ronald-
    Please describe for me the "experiment" you expect to see regarding climate change. A new world, perhaps, where we can add CO2 and watch the result?
    Climate science depends on modeling...that does not make it unscientific.
    Like you say in your article, go check out National Academy of Sciences and see what they have to say about it.

  • Ron Bailey||

    JandA: Have done so. Just wish environmental special interest groups would do the same with regard to other scientific issues. See my 2007 column, Tale of Two Scientific Consensuses.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Roanald-
    Thanks for that and I read it. You use exactly the same method for displaying scientific consensus on GMO's as I would on climate change. That is, that every single scientific organization says that climate change is real, that humans play at a minimum a large role, and that it is time we do something about it. NAS, Royal Society, etc...all the ones you mention. Hypocrisy works both ways, methinks.

  • Ron Bailey||

    JandA: Who's being hypocritical? Certainly not me. I am, however, calling out hypocrisy (and cynical profiteering) in this column.

  • The Derider||

    If a liberal believes something other than the scientific consensus on GMOs, she is "anti-science".

    If a consnervative believes something other than the scientific consensus on climate change, she's a "denier" or "opponent".

    This is a double standard.

  • ||

    Ron is and has been all over the place on climate change. On should note that he believes the alarmist view that CO2 is the cause of modern warming.

    The these two facts are not unrelated.

    Anyway the safety of GMO is backed by evidence. Man made climate change is not.

    Using consensus to prove or disprove one or the other is a classical fallacy literally as old as dirt.

    Anyway thank you for showing how Ron as well as yourself are full of shit when it comes to climate change.

  • The Derider||

    Appealing to a scientific consensus is not a classical fallacy.

    Appealing to a real authority is not the same as appealing to a false authority.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider| 8.14.12 @ 6:51PM |#
    "Appealing to a real authority is not the same as appealing to a false authority."

    Distinction absent difference.

  • The Derider||

    You're revealing more than you realize.

    Why are you attracted to libertarianism? Because you believe all authority is false.

    There are a lot of very smart libertarians who believe what they do for very smart reasons, but you aren't one of them.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider| 8.14.12 @ 7:29PM |#
    ..."Why are you attracted to libertarianism? Because you believe all authority is false."...
    TD attempts long-distance telepathy. And fails.

  • ||

    Argumentum ad populum

    I was not referring to an appeal to authority.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: I would think that calling someone "anti-science" is MUCH nicer than calling someone a "denier." None of those nasty Nazi Holocaust denying implications.

  • The Derider||

    Calling someone anti-science implies that the scientific arguments they use to defend their position are bullshit.

    Denier may have negative connotations, but not as negative as that.

    Look at it this way-- if liberals are "anti-science" on this issue, then their opponents are implied to be "pro-science" (and, as we see in this thread, many are not). Whereas in the climate change debate the denier/alarmist duality is universally negative. These are not the same pejorative terms.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: We will just have to disagree about the respective connotations.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider| 8.14.12 @ 6:56PM |#
    ..."These are not the same pejorative terms"

    Doesn't all that spinning make you dizzy?

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: Since I don't feel the least bit dizzy I guess I mustn't be spinning.

    On the other hand, I do hope you catch your tail someday.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Calling someone anti-science implies that the scientific arguments they use to defend their position are bullshit."

    No, that would be "psuedoscience".

    "Anti-science" would be an expressed hostility to scientific practice, as is commonly seen in religious whackos of all stripes, as well as in Leftist subgroups like Hippies, Animal Rights zealots, "Monkey Wrenchers", anti-tech types and even the ramblings of one Karl Marx.

  • Bill||

    Nope. There is no consensus on the most extreme predictions for catastrophic global warming and even if there was, this would say nothing about what policies should be pursued to reduce CO2.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "This is a double standard."

    Yeah, it certainly is, though you seem to have deliberately confused the roles of Liberals and Conservatives here.

  • The Derider||

    SO what's good for the goose really isn't good for the gander?

    Sorry to see your appreciation for scientific consensus extends as far as its utility as a bludgeon against the left.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD and JandA: You both might be amused by my 2006 column, Confessions of an Alleged ExxonMobil Whore.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Wow!! 2006!! Good article, and I never suggested money being important to you on this issue. But 6 years have passed...it seems to me more evidence is upon us since then, no? I certainly have changed my opinion on climate change since 2006...I'm more apprehensive now. But thanks for all your responses anyway.

  • ||

    But 6 years have passed

    Yup and the earth did not warm, and every climate model projection was falsified.

    Have fun with that.

  • The Derider||

    The Earth has warmed in those 6 years.

  • Shocked||

    Are you really suggesting 6 years of climate data is substantial evidence?

  • Jackand Ace||

    Both Shocked and JC should make at least an attempt to read Muller's work. He starts in the year 1850. 6 years is in reference to the article by Ronald.
    Yikes.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace| 8.14.12 @ 10:11PM |#
    "Both Shocked and JC should make at least an attempt to read Muller's work. He starts in the year 1850. 6 years is in reference to the article by Ronald.
    Yikes."

    Yes, and? Are you hoping innuendo suffices?

  • Cytotoxic||

    No it hasn't. Stop lying.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    It's just that most here don't believe the science behind GMOs because of the "consensus", but because of the various, real world, repeatable experiments that GMO scientists have conducted. It's not an appeal to their authority as scientists, but the appeal to the evidence that they have brought to the table.

    Climate change has no such evidence beyond "consensus."

  • Marshall Gill||

    One notable difference between climate change and biotech crops is that claims about the latter can be and have extensively been checked by experiments.

    This was exactly my point, Ron. The science behind GM foods is real repeatable science. The term "scientific consensus", as used today, is about models and predictions that have not been reproduced independently. Much of the "data" has been manipulated and/or "lost".

  • Jackand Ace||

    They have indeed been reproduced...check out the change in opinion from former skeptic Richard Muller and his "experiments" that led him to believe climate change is real and caused by man.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Muller's "skepticism" was dubious at best, 5th columnish at worst.

  • The Derider||

    Viewing science like politics is an excellent way to reach a spurious conclusion.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: Yes. Especially when science has been politicized.

  • ||

    Ron,

    Just an FYI

    The Derider is joe. You can probably verify this by asking the reason server squirrels. Anyway he has denied multiple times being joe. So he is a verified lier.

    So now you know who your are dealing with.

  • ||

    Viewing science like politics is an excellent way to reach a spurious conclusion.

    And yet you cling so madly to a democratic process of consensus gathering to determine if a scientific conclusion is valid or not.

    How quaint.

  • The Derider||

    I don't think you understand how a scientific consensus is reached. It's not the same way a president is elected.

  • Sevo||

    The Derider| 8.14.12 @ 7:02PM |#
    "I don't think you understand how a scientific consensus is reached. It's not the same way a president is elected."

    No, it's worse.

  • ||

    I don't think you understand how a scientific consensus is reached. It's not the same way a president is elected.

    A quick viewing of the climate gate emails shows it involves lying manipulating data, removing data, squashing critical papers, and withholding data and methods from critics and the public.

    Sounds like it is very similar to presidential elections.

  • Jackand Ace||

    He was an active critic of the science behind AGW, and he is no longer. Regardless, he went through the same data, used all temperature stations, separated out those that were questionable, and he came out with the same result. And in the past he was critical of some of those measurements. Not any longer.

  • ||

    He was an active critic of the science behind AGW, and he is no longer.

    He is still skeptical about many things in regards to the evidence of AGW. Most notably he is skeptical of the milti-proxy temperature series. He also thinks the medieval warming period was as warm as it is today. As well as he has found no evidence of a water vapor positive feedback due to CO2 emissions. If the warming is AGW it is only CO2...ie there will be no run away global warming as prophesied in the IPCC.

    You might actually want to read what he wrote.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Mueller's skepticism regarding AGW was over blown by the media.

    Mueller's work is better than what came before, his real skepticism was for the shoddiness of the work done at East Anglia, and the outright snake oil that was being generated by NASA.

    Furthermore, to Mueller's credit, his conclusions do not race ahead of the data generated. He is careful with the results.

  • Ron Bailey||

    MG and JandA: Check out my column last week, Everyone Freaks Out Two New Climate Change Studies.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Please, Ron, I read them back then.

  • Ron Bailey||

    MG: Well thank you then.

  • Marshall Gill||

    You are kidding, right? Muller? Sorry, he was never a skeptic.

    If you have any actual criticisms of Watts recent work in regard to Muller's I would be interested in hearing them. Even they have a ton more assumptions than the science of GM foods.

  • Ron Bailey||

    MG: Watts still needs to take into account time of day in his data. It's not a done deal.

  • ||

    Watts still needs to take into account time of day in his data. It's not a done deal.

    If CO2 is causing the warming why would time of day effect surface temperatures but not higher atmospheric temperatures?

    The fact that we have higher night temperatures on the surface but not in the atmosphere implies that CO2 is not causing the warming. If anything it supports his claim that the temperature record is polluted by urbanization (heat islands) and changes in agriculture.

    Watts does not need to deal with this...the alarmists do.

  • The Derider||

    Because the ground temperature is affected largely by the amount of direct radiation recieved, but the upper atmosphere is warmed mostly by convection, which takes a lot longer and thus doesn't correlate to the day/night cycle.

  • ||

    Because the ground temperature is affected largely by the amount of direct radiation recieved, but the upper atmosphere is warmed mostly by convection

    sigh.

    Night time surface temperature has risen over time joe. yet daytime temperatures have not (or at least not as much)

    Why would CO2 cause a greater increase in night warming on the surface then day warming? The evidence implies that it is not CO2 but in fact a change with the surface.

    Should also point out that atmospheric temperatures have risen less then surface temperatures...again this implies the change is at the surface not a change in atmospheric gases.

  • Ron Bailey||

    jc: The issue is were the reported temperatures at each thermometer (remember these are surface measurements) taken at the same time everyday. Watts needs to take into account things like temperature data recorded at a station at noon which then changed later to 2 pm, and so forth.

  • ||

    Watts needs to take into account things like temperature data recorded at a station at noon which then changed later to 2 pm, and so forth.

    Isn't that everyone's problem?

    Why does Watts have to do that yet BEST/NOAA/GISS/UEA don't?

  • Jackand Ace||

    MG- Not kidding. Whether you accept the title of "skeptic" or not, he went through even more records of temperature data, reconstructed the analysis, and came out with the same conclusions. Check out on youtube his prior statements as to how that data was not trustworthy in the past.

  • ||

    He criticized the multi-proxy studies then studied the surface instrumental record.

    He made a weird choice in my opinion.

    Anyway he found that water vapor is not a positive feedback.

    Hard to say if he is a skeptic now or not.

    Saying there is no water vapor feedback pretty much destroys any worry about warming from CO2.

  • Bill||

    I think Muller's work is important. As a professional scientist, I personally will wait another 10-15 years before I make up my mind as the climate is so variable and there are natural cycles that certainly should kick in soon IF they turn out to be more important than CO2 positive feedbacks.

    The last few warming cycles look like they last 30-40 years whereas the cooling seems to be 25-30 years.

    Muller agrees with the consensus of the experts in each field on things such as drought, sea level, snowfall, tornados and hurricanes that there is NO evidence yet of any significant changes attributable to CO2 in any of these areas.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Wait 15 years to make up your mind about global warming?
    Yeah, your a professional scientist alright.

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace| 8.14.12 @ 10:12PM |#
    "Wait 15 years to make up your mind about global warming?
    Yeah, your a professional scientist alright."

    Jackass, do you presume to set a time when others may 'make up their minds'?
    Are you trying for 'troll of the day' award? Or are you simply an ignoramus?

  • Sevo||

    Jackand Ace| 8.14.12 @ 6:10PM |#
    ..."check out the change in opinion from former skeptic Richard Muller"...
    Please cite *exactly* what those changes are.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Muller and mounds of other evidence/findings have made mincemeat out of the notion that AGW will be catastrophic.

    The caveat of the whole CAGW bit is that anthro CO2 is NOT enough. That creates some warming that needs to be amplified by positive feedback by water vapor. Evidence favors anthro CO2 causing warming but has not found the feedback loop.

  • Greg F||

    check out the change in opinion from former skeptic Richard Muller ...

    Richard Muller resigned from the Sierra Club in the 80's over climate. Quoting Muller:

    In fact, back in the early ’80s, I resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of global warming. At that time, they were opposing nuclear power. What I wrote them in my letter of resignation was that, if you oppose nuclear power, the U.S. will become much more heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and that this is a pollutant to the atmosphere that is very likely to lead to global warming.

    So when exactally was Muller a sceptic?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Failure to reject a null hypothesis does not confirm a null hypothesis, though people often seem to conclude otherwise.

    Requiring that truthful information be put on packaging is not antiscience. Except for the economic problem of using labeling space, I don't see a lot to complain about. Shouldn't a libertarian be in favor of an informed consumer?

    I'll eat the modified crops. Other people don't want to. Let them know, and let them make that choice.

    Have you gone all liberal, and decided that you'll decide what's good for them?

  • Ron Bailey||

    bb...: I did not deal with the costs in the column - I was focusing on the scientific disinformation aspect of the campaign.

    It's not really about labels. Who pays for the not inconsiderable costs of segregating conventional from biotech crops; tracking them from farm to fork; testing them, etc? In the case of specialty foods, say, kosher or organic, the consumers who demand them voluntarily pay those extra costs. Why should people who are not concerned about biotech crops be forced to pay the extra costs to reassure the scientifically illiterate?

    In any case, the OCA's director Cummins made in plain many years ago what the ultimate goal is:

    “The challenge over the next months and years will be to see if organic consumers, environmental organizations, farm activists, churches, and public interest groups can build upon this tactical victory and begin making headway in the bigger battle — driving genetically engineered crops off the market all over the world, beginning to phase-out [sic] the most dangerous practices of industrial agriculture, and jump-starting the conversion of the majority of the world’s agriculture to organic methods as soon as possible.”

  • Ron Bailey||

    bb...: Shorter version: The Prop 37 proponents' "consumer choice" rhetoric is bogus.

  • buybuydandavis||

    No, it's not, and quoting some anti GMO ideologue doesn't make it so.

    Some people don't want to eat GMO crops. They want to know what they're eating, and that it isn't GMO. It's to deny reality to pretend otherwise.

    The pure libertarian solution is to *require* nothing, and *allow* sellers to put Non-GMO on their food, but you're against that too.

  • Ron Bailey||

    bb...: Shorter version: They can buy organic. BTW, did you notice that the proponents of Prop 37 want to "require" labels?

  • buybuydandavis||

    You can buy organic too. So what?

    Maybe they want Non-GMO, but don't otherwise care about the other requirements for organic. Why should it be illegal for someone to label a product to indicate that category?

    And yes, I noticed the required. That's why I referred to it. All sorts of labeling is required. I disapprove, but don't get too excited over the government requiring truthful information.

    I get more exercised when they *prohibit* truthful information, which you don't seem to have a problem with, as long as you disapprove of the information.

  • Coeus||

    Why should it be illegal for someone to label a product to indicate that category?

    It's not.

    All sorts of labeling is required. I disapprove,

    Then what is your issue here?

  • Sevo||

    buybuydandavis| 8.14.12 @ 7:50PM |#
    ..."Why should it be illegal for someone to label a product to indicate that category?"...

    Do you know strawmen are dangerous?

  • ||

    Exactly right! The same folks who don't want us to label GMO also won't let us label Non-GMO and won't let us refer to pier reviewed studies that say certain foods or supplements are good for your health.
    If they are free to omit information then we also need the freedom to include information.

  • ||

    Buying organic assures you that a product is GMO free however conventional crops can be GMO free too. Why can't they be labeled?

  • SKR||

    Where did anyone say they were against a "no GMOs" label? Those already exist.

  • farmer||

    "Some people don't want to eat GMO crops. They want to know what they're eating, and that it isn't GMO. It's to deny reality to pretend otherwise."

    And those very people are the EXACT reason the American taxpayer paid hundreds of millions of dollars to create the USDA National Organic Program. We have a label specifically tailored to their requirments, its even government subsidized! Theres no reason for another label, period.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Well, no, not exactly.

    See, the process on display is PRECISELY the process AGW disciples accuse 'deniers' of using. They accuse 'deniers' of using this process because it is the one that they, themselves, use, over and over again to great effect.

    Projection.

  • Invisible Finger||

    The poor will pay more, that's the important thing.

  • The Derider||

    I don't think bioengineered food is any more dangerous than traditional food. On the other hand, I think this issue illuminates some points of interest around choice.

    Libertarians often argue that increasing freedom of choice is always a good thing, as long as the non-aggression principle is upheld. The effect of prop 37 is to give consumers the ability to choose between bioengineered and traditional foods. Bailey does a great job describing why informing consumers about this choice would be a bad idea-- they are likely to make the wrong choice and prefer traditional foods to GMOs, even though they have no demonstrable benefit whatosever, and they cost a lot more. Freedom of choice is almost always a good thing-- but sometimes people are too stupid to use it effectively.

  • ||

    Well, arguably non-GMO producers should simply be allowed to label things "non-GMO". Why force other people to put a label on their own products they don't want to, when you can just label your own stuff the opposite way?

  • The Derider||

    That's a totally separate argument than the one presented here, but I don't disagree with it.

  • Ron Bailey||

    HM TD: That label already exists and is called "organic."

  • buybuydandavis||

    Non-GMO organic

  • Ron Bailey||

    bb...: Organic is a federally enforced process system which forbids the use of biotech inputs.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Organic might imply Non-GMO (if you say so), but Non-GMO does not imply organic.

    They're not interchangeable.

  • ||

    Right, but from a libertarian perspective, people should be allowed to advertise whatever they want on their products.

    If they want to call it "gluten free" or "GMO free" or "Jew free" that should be their own businesss, no matter how retarded it is.

    What they should not be allowed to do if force "jewish" foods to be labeled with a yellow star of David, or force biotech foods to be labeled with the "GMO" equivalent. They whole point of identifying the "impure" product is so that it can be discriminated against, even if the branding is completely scientificlly unfounded.

  • ||

    To add to that, imagine if (say) in the old south, they passed a law requiring all food prepared by blacks to be labeled "Nigger Food", so that white people could avoid it more easily.

  • SKR||

    I'm stealing this.

  • mr simple||

    Consumers already have the ability to choose and companies can put "Non-GMO Food" on their label if they want (and if it's a true statement). Prop 37 is just about scaring people with a GMO label.

  • GILMORE||

    mr simple| 8.14.12 @ 5:59PM |#

    Consumers already have the ability to choose and companies can put "Non-GMO Food" on their label if they want (and if it's a true statement). Prop 37 is just about scaring people with a GMO label.

    Exactamundo.

    They would rather force competitors to look as though they are the 'odd men out'. Scarlet Letter, etc.

    Meanwhile, in related news of deep-stupidity -

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07.....eling.html

    'Calfornia Woman blames 'un-natural' food for her 6yr old child's "Early onset bipolar disease, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety " = freaks out when she learns that "Natures Valley" granola bars have processed ingredients, and files class action lawsuit against General Mills'

    Let's start with the stupid of a 6yr old having multiple combinations of 'disorders' (maybe she's just a fucking normal 6yr old with neurotic parents?)...then the assumption (sans evidence) that its *moar natural foods* that then magically makes it all better...

  • Sevo||

    Pretty sure the default assumption is wacko mommy hoping for big bucks.

  • ||

    I'd be bipolar, obsessive, hyperactive, and anxious I had a crazy bitch of a mother like that.

  • SKR||

    How does she think prepackaged granola bars are made, fucking magic?

  • Ron Bailey||

    TD: That's ridiculous. People in the U.S. know that mandatory labels are applied to products that pose hazards. This campaign is a despicable attempt to take advantage of that knowledge and confuse consumers in the guise of increasing their choice.

    People who are actually concerned can already buy clearly labelled organic stuff.

    As my column argues, this campaign has nothing to do with choice. It is about scaring consumers into lining the pockets of its proponents.

  • DJF||

    “”””People in the U.S. know that mandatory labels are applied to products that pose hazards”’

    No they don’t, you must not go to the supermarket. All food products have ingredient labels. Just because it has a mandatory ingredient label does not mean that its a hazard.

  • Ron Bailey||

    DJF: Ingredients = nutritional information.

  • Brett L||

    Here's a fun game. See how many products you can find in your household labelled "this product is known by the state of California to cause cancer" then get back to me.

  • Robert||

    Also, people don't know the difference between the mandatory labels and the voluntary ones (such as kosher labeling). In fact, usually it's considered an illegal disclaimer for a mandatory warning label to be prefaced by, "We are required by law to state...". The only counter-example I know of that is the journals that charge authors and then preface the mandatory label "advertisement" to that effect.

  • Bill||

    Ron,

    I don't think the Derider cares. He likes it when corporations use government power to enrich themselves and put legal restrictions on their competitors. Its the American way apparently.

    As long as you have good intentions or say you do, then it does not matter what you do. And you never have to go back and see if your policies really had the effect they were supposed to.

  • ||

    The effect of prop 37 is to give consumers the ability to choose between bioengineered and traditional foods.

    GMO-free producers label their food.

    So my choice does not need government assistance to be secure.

    Again joe this is what it looks like when you get pawned. Get use to it.

  • ||

    Could this be challenged in court or at the federal level?

    Doesn't it violate the first amendment rights of food producers to be forced to add labelling that is misleading?
    Wouldn't it contradict existing FDA regulations on the subject that say labelling is not required?
    IIRC, the FDA forbids labelling things "GMO-Free" because it is misleading, right?
    Couldn't the "contains GMOs" label have the same problem?

  • DJF||

    How is it misleading? Is saying something contains sugar misleading? Is saying it contains High- fructose corn syrup misleading? If the GMO industry has not convinced people of the benefits of GMO food then that is their problem. If they want to sell food then have them sell what the people want or convince them otherwise.

  • Ron Bailey||

    DFJ: Noting the presence of sugar provides nutritional information. As noted in the article, the FDA, based on science, requires labels in the case of nutrition and safety. Since biotech crops are nutritionally the same and pose no safety issues, the agency requires no labeling.

  • Bill||

    Take milk from cows treated with the protein bovine growth hormone (BGH). The BGH does not go into the milk and they have found no differences between milk from cows with or without BGH.

    IF you were to require a label saying the milk came from BGH cows that makes no sense as it is no different.

    Other producers can label their own milk as "not coming from BGH cows" or as organic.

    You can't have people label what is NOT in their products. There are an INFINITE number of things that are not in any given product. Milk does not have dirt, lead, arsenic, paint thinner, rabbit feces, buffalo farts, leprechaun hair, etc.

  • Ron Bailey||

    HM: The FDA's draft guidance on labeling outlines the agency's concerns with "GMO-Free" and other variant proposed labels. I highly recommend reviewing the FDA guidance to get a better understanding of what is at stake. In any case, a relevant analysis from the guidance:

    A statement that a food was not bioengineered or does not contain bioengineered ingredients may be misleading if it implies that the labeled food is superior to foods that are not so labeled. FDA has concluded that the use or absence of use of bioengineering in the production of a food or ingredient does not, in and of itself, mean that there is a material difference in the food. Therefore, a label statement that expresses or implies that a food is superior (e.g., safer or of higher quality) because it is not bioengineered would be misleading. The agency will evaluate the entire label and labeling in determining whether a label statement is in a context that implies that the food is superior.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Nice.

    So you're for the government prohibiting truthful information, but also against the government requiring truthful information.

    It's not government coercion you're against, only government coercion in favor of ideas you oppose.

  • Ron Bailey||

    bb...: I believe that the "truthfulness" of the information is exactly what is at issue.

  • buybuydandavis||

    I find that a less than honest dodge of the issue, an evasion masquerading as a response.

  • Ron Bailey||

    bb...: It's not.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Is too.

  • Bill||

    Is not infinity!!

  • Robert||

    No, required labeling has always been judged as a regul'n on marketing a product, not on speech, because you're still allowed to say your piece as long as it's not in cx with marketing a product or service.

  • ||

    But if the FDAregulation forbids "GMO free" labeling, wouldn't a state law requiring it conflict with federal regulation?

    Arguably you could make a case that federal regulation trumps state regulation, so the state can't require a label if the federal regulation holds that it would be misleading.

    Moreover, it fails the rational basis test, since there's no scientific justification for requiring it. So you could argue that the FDA cannot carve out a special exception to the restriction on misleading labeling just so states can impose the requirement. You can't make a special exception in the case of one particular product without having a rational basis for making that exception.

  • Kroneborge||

    I really doubt it will make much of a difference. Most people aren't willing to spend a lot more on organic or range fed, and they will still be unlikely to once they labels are put on.

    Moreover, if there was a big drop in GMO use, I think it would exacerbate the price differences because GMO allows more food to be produced more cheaply.

    All that being said, organic as a whole will eventually take over because of the limited supplies of potash, and phosphate etc. Jermey Gratham has a very good analysis of that in this quarters investment letter from (just a coindence) GMO

    http://www.gmo.com/America/MyHome/MySubscriptions

    You can also read one of his earlier pieces on resources
    http://thinkprogress.org/clima.....?mobile=nc

  • Kroneborge||

    On a side note, my wife is making us buy most things organic. We can afford it, and so we will do it "just in case".

    I do think there's a very good case to be made for range fed though.

  • Bill||

    A chicken that is truly free range and can eat insects and grass and be less stressed may produce eggs that have better nutritional value, more omega fats, etc.

    Or you could just feed them some ground up fish meal.

    Some of the cage-free eggs I have seen say the chickens were only fed grain which may be ok for vegans, etc. but the eggs may have less nutritional value, esp. if all they eat is corn which is not the most nutritional grain.

  • Ron Bailey||

  • Kroneborge||

    Interesting article on phosphorus. And agreed that people will adapt to shortages eventually.

    For example, they might switch or organic farming, if phosphorus etc becomes super expensive. That doesn't mean the problems don't exist. More important that doesn't mean the problems can be addressed in a cost effective manner.

    For example, the solution to water problems is simple Desal, but it sure isn't cheap.

  • Sevo||

    Kroneborge| 8.14.12 @ 7:49PM |#
    ..."For example, the solution to water problems is simple Desal, but it sure isn't cheap."

    A better solution might well be charging market rates for water. Bet the soaked lawns would be replaced with something more stingy with water in a matter of months.

  • SKR||

    Not unless you change the ordinances requiring lawns.

  • ||

    Or you could have Organic-GMO.

    Plants engineered to be drought tolerant or insect resistant without
    the need for pesticides or fertilizers.

    Maybe plants that fix their own nitrogen, or enhanced nitrogran-fixing crops like soybeans.

    That is clearly the direction the food industry is heading, once it gets past the luddite paranoia about GMOs.

    Whatever people say about Bt corn, it is far, FAR less harmful than spraying the entire field with pesticide. Bt corn only kills insects that actually eat the corn , anything else that lives in the field is unharmed.

  • SKR||

    Plus the bt crops also convey advantage to non bt crops planted nearby.

  • Old Mexican||

    Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act initiative, is an anti-science campaign that flies in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus that genetically modified foods are safe and healthy[...] All of these claims[...] are solidly contradicted by the scientific consensus regarding biotech crops.

    Bad argument. The mandatory labeling of these foods is not anti-science in itself, as the Proposition does not purport to stop scientific inquiry or deny scientific findings, only to warn people about the origin of certain foods. It is also engaging in misinformation, but that does not mean the proposition is by itself anti-science, it is just ignorant or dumb.

    What it IS, instead, is an egregious violation of speech rights, by compelling a company to engage in speech that the company does not wish or want. On those grounds alone, the proposition flies in the face of basic human rights and civil rights.

    It is up to the buyer to demand a clause or note regarding the genetic origin of the food he is buying and for the seller to comply. If a tort is commited or a fraud perpetrated, then the buyer and the seller can agree to settle the matter in arbitration or the courts.

    Adding the label may give piece of mind to those buyers that will not buy the product, but the willing buyers are made to pay the cost that the other non-buyers don't have to pay - talk about "free riders"!

  • Ron Bailey||

    OM: With due respect, it is being justified on the anti-scientific grounds that “genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.” Cited from the literature justifying the initiative.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Good stuff Ron. But since everyone here is giving you crap then so must I...WHERE IS THE ARTICLE ON The hottest temperature by man? HMM? Clearly you have been bought and paid for by Big Cold Temp special interests.

    Cancel my subscription.

    P.S. Wasn't there some monk with wrinkly yellow peas and smooth green peas about 200 years ago? Wasn't that GMO? Is there a damn whit of difference?

  • SKR||

    Yes, current techniques are far more precise and predictable.

  • Robert||

    "90% of the public want to know...." Well, duh! If you ask them if they want to know something, anything, of course people will say they do; the other 10% are just fucking with the poll-taker. It's like the TV commercial where they asked every man, woman, and child in America if they wanted more toppings y cheese on their pizza, and they all said yes, so they went on to survey monkeys.

    I'm sure if you ask, most people will say they want to know if their food is made using Dominican labor, or with any carbon steel implements, or on Saturday, even if they never thought about that before y never will again.

  • Ron Bailey||

    R: Excellent point! Which is why I cited the EU data on actual buying habits.

  • cwichner||

    Ron, as a libertarian shouldn't you be arguing for more transparency and choice? This proposition will simply allow people to chose a middle ground between organic and genetically modified food. Those consumers, who for example are pregnant and don't want to risk their fetus being exposed to the BT insecticide, could then choose conventional but not genetically engineered food. This could _shrink_ demand for certified organic food.

    In 2011 the journal "Reproductive Toxicology" published research showing that the BT insecticide showed up in 93% of blood samples from pregnant women and 80% of umbilical cords. The USDA approvals for BT-engineered crops was based on the assumption that the BT protein would be broken down in the stomach, and thus have not impact in human health. That fundamental assumption is now proven false. From the article:

    "This is the first study to highlight the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, foetal and non-pregnant women’s blood. [The Bt toxin was] clearly detectable and appears to cross the placenta to the foetus."

    Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670

    Your scientific citations from 2003 and 2004 say "To date," and "There is no evidence...". Those are not _current_ scientific consensus.

    There are many reasons why people may want to buy organic food or not buy genetically modified food. To argue that citizens should NOT have information about what they buy makes no sense.

  • mr simple||

    Does no one read comments already posted before they comment anymore?

  • cwichner||

    Shouldn't you read past he first sentence before you comment? The comment is about Ron's use of outdated publications to falsely assert a scientific consensus.

    The first line about transparency and choice is answered in the last line -- people need information to make good choices. That two of us happen to think Ron's perspective on this topic is out of step with libertarianism I hope would be instructive.

  • Sevo||

    cwichner| 8.14.12 @ 9:03PM |#
    "Shouldn't you read past he first sentence before you comment? The comment is about Ron's use of outdated publications to falsely assert a scientific consensus."
    Your 'new' information has already been debunked. You've been busted; see below.

    "The first line about transparency and choice is answered in the last line -- people need information to make good choices. That two of us happen to think Ron's perspective on this topic is out of step with libertarianism I hope would be instructive."
    Yes, backing a government requirement for worthless labels is *so* libertarian!
    What's 'instructive' isn't what you propose.

  • Bill||

    Takes too long.

  • Kuze||

    http://www.marcel-kuntz-ogm.fr.....93155.html

    "Surprisingly, the authors do not consider that the origin of Cry1Ab could be food from organic farming (which sprays Cry1Ab, or bacteria producing it, on fruit or vegetable crops) or from its use in gardening (CryA1b is part of available "natural insecticide" formulations)."

    Should the government compel the producers of a product with no known risks to put what amounts to a skull and cross bones on their label? Can you understand why a competitor would lobby for this?

  • ||

    Ron, as a libertarian shouldn't you be arguing for more transparency and choice?

    This is horseshit. It is not libertarian to force labels, it is an infringement on free speech. You are free as a consumer to demand transparency from your food producers if you wish. You can go to a grocery store right now and find food labeled non-GMO.

    What you really want is to force your preferences on other people.

  • Ron Bailey||

    c: Let's begin with the consensus - I note that I cited the AMA's June statement. Second, national academies of science and suchlike issue reports at a stately pace. In any case, if any significant body of relevant scientists had issued a report questioning the safety of biotech crops since the latest NAS report, I guarantee you that it would be the first item listed in google search for "GMO safety."

    With regard to the new study you cite, you do realize that organic growers use bacillus thuringiensis as an insecticide and that eating organic produce likely exposes consumers to b.t. toxins that way?

    It is certainly the case that we ingest all sorts of plant toxins and genes every day without worrying too much about the health effects.

    Given the link limitation another post coming.

  • Ron Bailey||

    C: Next post in response:

    A recent scientific review article finds no reported health problems resulting from the consumption of b.t. toxin from either organic or biotech sources.

    Finally, the study (much ballyhooed by the anti=GMO crowd) you cite makes no claims with regard to harms to human health.

  • Sevo||

    "Finally, the study (much ballyhooed by the anti=GMO crowd) you cite makes no claims with regard to harms to human health."

    In fact it admits as much, but then offers 'authoritative' innuendo:
    ..."paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities."
    Yeah, or 'a new field' in chasing chimeras.

  • SKR||

    Lol, plant breeders using biotech actually do chase chimeras, but not the kind you mean.

  • cwichner||

    Hi Ron,

    We agree that doing good science takes time. People used to think there was no problem with lead paint, DDT, arsenic, radioactivity, thalidomide, Phen-fen, etc.

    The article I cited was good science, showing that a previous assumption was false. No one on the planet knows enough about embryonic development to know what the BT toxin will do to a fetus -- that will take at least several years of scientific study. Do you want your wife, or daughter to be part of the experiment until then? I don't. The only way for people to opt out now is if they have a choice.

    Also spraying bt on a plant is trillions or quadrillions of times less than having it in every cell of our food. Not a good argument to try to stand behind.

    The absence of evidence of human harm is not evidence of absence. I don't know for sure bt is harmful to people, but the evidence so far isn't looking good, and people should be able to make their own choice.

  • Sevo||

    cwichner| 8.14.12 @ 9:29PM |#
    ..."No one on the planet knows enough about embryonic development to know what the BT toxin will do to a fetus"...

    A true classic of argument from ignorance!
    You should be proud!

  • Sevo||

    Ooops:
    Oh, and:
    "I don't know for sure bt is harmful to people, but the evidence so far isn't looking good,"
    It's obvious you don't, and so far your claim of 'evidence' is hogwash.
    Further, are you arguing against 'organic' farming, as:
    "Surprisingly, the authors do not consider that the origin of Cry1Ab could be food from organic farming (which sprays Cry1Ab, or bacteria producing it, on fruit or vegetable crops) or from its use in gardening (CryA1b is part of available "natural insecticide" formulations)."
    http://www.marcel-kuntz-ogm.fr.....93155.html
    So do we need warning labels on 'organic' foods?

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and:
    "

  • Sevo||

    Why not?

    "No one on the planet knows enough about embryonic development to know what the BT toxin will do to a fetus"

    No one knows what the *lack* of the BT toxin will do to a fetus, either.

  • SKR||

    Bullshit, there is no pathway to effect mammals.

  • cwichner||

    SKR,

    The bt peptide is known to affect the gut of insects (where the pH is basic, not acidic as in mammals). That I assume is the basis of your point.

    However there has been no research on what happens to humans, and particularly developing fetuses, when exposed to this peptide.

    If you somehow have done all the research on bt's impact on developing fetuses, please point to your publications. Until then I'd prefer if we give women (and their unborn children) at least a choice in the matter.

    They added the gene to the crops -- they should label it.

  • Sevo||

    cwichner| 8.15.12 @ 11:28AM |#
    "However there has been no research on what happens to humans, and particularly developing fetuses, when exposed to this peptide."

    You're the gold-medal winner in "argument from ignorance".
    Did you have a point, or is it fun just pointing in random directions?

  • sciencenerd||

    cwichner, I disagree. Bt has been a huge part of our culture for years, and if embryonic development was affected, the correlations would have been epidemiologically described by now. Plus, the way the plants are engineered, not only do they not express the Bt toxin in every cell, they only express the toxin during the vegetative stage of growth (while the corn stalk is growing, before it produces ears). Eating GMO corn does not result in ingesting Bt toxin because the gene is not expressed in the ears of corn. Spraying Bt on a plant is trillions or quadrillons of times more exposure than eating an ear from an engineered plant.

  • wareagle||

    every time I see 'consensus' it might as well be stated as 'belief' or 'opinion.' It's a word that has no place in science. Hypotheses are either supported or they are not; what someone believes the conclusion should be is immaterial.

    Most noteworthy is the who's who of usual suspect liberals and advocacy groups who grasp the consensus mantle when it suits them but dismiss it when their ox is gored.

  • Kuze||

    cwichner,

    Let's be honest here, you personally stand to gain from the implementation of this law and not just in the fuzzy "for the good of the earth" kind of way either but financially. Do you agree?

  • Sevo||

    You presume cwichner is an 'organic' grower rather than a random Luddite?
    Could well be.

  • cwichner||

    Hi Sevo,

    I'm quite the opposite of a luddite. I just focus our technologies on enhancing organic and sustainable agriculture.

    Most weeds develop herbicide resistance after 2 to 20 years (This is a great site: http://www.weedscience.org/ChronMOA.GIF). If Round-Up is all we'll ever need, then they wouldn't need to bring back 2-4-D, the main component of Agent Orange from Vietnam.

    Very successful alternatives, such as livestock and crop rotations, pasture-rich systems, perennial cropping systems and more are financially and agriculturally successful. They have just not received decades of subsidies (crop subsidies, insurance subsidies, demand mandates such as for ethanol, etc). Nor have they done decades of lobbying public opinion or government. Anyway, we focus on all the ways of growing great food that don't rely on pesticides and herbicides...but there is lots and lots of technology.

    I do wonder why you are such an advocate of GMO agriculture -- do you work for Monsanto or you just like eating livestock corn and bathing in pesticides? Run an ethanol factory? I would be surprised, but maybe you are a scientific researcher who has studied low-dose chronic pesticide exposure in humans? Sorry for being snarky but turn-about seems like fair play here.

  • ||

    What's unsustainable about GMO?
    Seems to me many GMO crops make agriculture MORE sustainable, not less.

  • cwichner||

    Good question. GMO is just a tool, like fire. It can keep you warm, or burn your house down. GMO technology is "unsustainable" when used to promote specific pesticide or herbicide routines. See www.weedscience.com for how quickly nature has developed resistance to herbicides (2 to 20 years, and the resistance spreads like, well, weeds).

    GMO corn, while on a small scale and a short time-frame may reduce pesticide use, but it has been used on such a massive scale that it is causing many more problems than it originally helped. Pesticide use is increasing, including very toxic ones. Many more problems will take 3, 5, 10 or 20 years for the magnitude of the problems to be "consensus".

    You can google topics such as superweeds, aquifer depletion, eutrophic zones, and more.

    GMO is a tool that in many cases are being used in short-sighted ways. The salesmen keep saying "we have to feed the world" or "we need the cheapest food possible", or "this is sustainable/organic/safe". These are all lobbyist talking points. You and I have to live with the consequences.

    Truly sustainable are methods such as crop and livestock rotation, having habitat for beneficial predators (ladybugs to eat aphids, bird habitat to eat weevils, etc), systems that don't leave the land uncovered after every harvest, perennial cropping systems where roots go down 6-8 feet for water and nutrients rather than just 6-8 inches as for corn, etc.

  • Sevo||

    "we need the cheapest food possible", or "this is sustainable/organic/safe". These are all lobbyist talking points. You and I have to live with the consequences."

    Uh, bullshit. We do need the cheapest food possible.

  • Sevo||

    cwichner| 8.15.12 @ 1:34AM |#
    "Hi Sevo,
    I'm quite the opposite of a luddite. I just focus our technologies on enhancing organic and sustainable agriculture."

    So you *are* a Luddite. And a bullshit artist. Thanks.

  • sciencenerd||

    Using GMO plants REDUCES the use of insecticides and herbicides. And, no, I don't work for Monsanto. I just understand genetic engineering, understand how much pesticide use is necessary without it, and realize that we cannot feed (and not poison it) without GMO foods.

  • cwichner||

    Hi Kuze,

    Actually a gmo-free label would be a competitor, taking up both limited shelf space and mind-share. I expect many current or potential organic consumers will buy gmo-free and think it is "good enough".

    Also the gmo debate is a distraction to the real issues of sustainable agriculture. I'd much rather we talk about topics such as:

    - why corn is subsidized but pasture is not (they both produce the same amount of meat per acre on the same quality soil)

    - why organic farmers have to pay to get labeled when they are not the ones adding pesticides or genes to the food

    - why antibiotics are used as appetite stimulants for livestock (and there the scientific consensus actually is that it harms human health)

    And many things less contentious than the gmo issue.

    The financial issue you raise is on the ones trying to suppress information. GMOs allow farmers to grow monocrops without rotating their farmland. GMOs allow an oligopoly to control seed production and chemical sales.This is a massive, concentrated profit engine. Any benefits normal business people get out of a labeling measure will be diffuse and small.

    This ballot measure will pass as a measure of people's dissatisfaction with the current food system. Organic, sustainable agriculture currently succeeds without this ballot measure, and will continue to succeed no matter what the outcome of any one policy.

  • ||

    - why organic farmers have to pay to get labeled when they are not the ones adding pesticides or genes to the food

    Actually organic farmers do add "psticides" to the food. They use bacillus thuringenisis - they spray it on. And they add genes to food too - whenever they cross breed two species of corn, they are adding genes from one species to another.

    Your logic is basically that if people irrationally fear witches, that all products made by Wiccans should be required to carry a special pentagram label so that people who hate witches can avoid buying their products.

  • Sevo||

    "- why organic farmers have to pay to get labeled when they are not the ones adding pesticides or genes to the food"

    If you choose the brag about your silliness, you get to pay for it.
    No one is forcing you to do so.

  • ||

    Those are not _current_ scientific consensus.

    Yes they are.
    In the 8 years since 2004 there has not been a single scientific study showing any harm to human health as a result of GMO crops.

    If you believe otherwise, I dare you to come up with some.

  • Russell||

    Welcome to the club, Ron.

    Being anecht conservative climate anti-science basher has gotten me denounced as "anti science" by vice-presidential court historian Naomi Oreskes.

  • Shocked||

    Isn't GMO a big reason why the world has been producing ever more food on less and less land over the past few decades while at the same time worldwide health and longevity keeps increasing?I realize a lot of other factors are in play but basic food stuffs seem to be one hell of a common denominator.

  • Brandybuck||

    I am amazed as the number of libertarians in favor of this proposition. It's the paranoid wing at it again, this time it's Frankfood that will kill us all instead of Black Helicopters and FEMA camps.

  • ||

    They aren't libertarians if they are in favor of the proposition.

  • Beowulf||

    This discussion struggles because of how it is framed. Let's say I want the label on a can of peas to say what day of the week they were picked. Nobody would argue that I should not have that information. They would, however, argue that imposing my labeling requirement on the the canned pea industry would impose a cost on millions of pea consumers that is not justified.

    If I allege that peas picked on Wednesdays are less carcinogenic, then I am ignorant or deceptive. Neither of those things makes me anti-science.

    From a libertarian perspective, forcing the majority (pea consumers) to pay for something that benefits a minority (day-specific carcinogenic believers) is not a good thing. While I may defend to the death your right to be ignorant, I feel no compunction to subsidize it.

    So, RB weakens his argument when he conflates "generic ignorance and self-interested deception" with being anti-science. The counter-argument is inappropriately framed as a "consumer's right to know" when it is really about the consumer's ability to foist the costs of extraneous labeling on the population as a whole.

    As an aside, the silver lining of the whole global warming kerfluffle has been to create a healthy skepticism about "scientific consensus" As GBS remarked some years back "All professions are conspiracies against the laity." Skepticism may be secondary only to sunlight as a disinfectant.

  • Ron Bailey||

    B: nicely put - but in my defense I note in the 2nd paragraph that the Prop 37 folks justify their initiative based on allegedly scientific concerns.

  • ||

    The proposition also seems to put the onus on every producer to label their product in some way rather than to just allow the advocates of the superiority of their product to establish in the market place consumers preference in this regard.

    I invite anyone to produce evidence that I am wrong, but as far as I know, there is absolute no rule preventing producers of food products not using genetically alter crops in their products from putting prominent labels on their containers that the contents "CONTAINS NO GMO INGREDIENTS."

  • ||

    I see it as a means for the state to enable prejudiced consumers to more easily exercise a prejudice.

    Like say if the state were to require all food prepared by gay men to carry a pink triangle. Just information right?

  • MSimon||

    What about machines planting and harvesting food? It is unnatural. And it uses oil besides. Have these monsters in the farming business no care for our Precious Bodily Fluids?

  • MSimon||

    Eating food will kill you.

    Proof. There are no known people who have eaten food with lives as long as two hundred years and damned few who have lived as long as one hundred years.

    The only thing we appear to know about he subject is that not eating food seems to kill you faster. But that may be an artifact of methodology.

  • ||

    While I'm at, I'm goinging a new phras: "Food Bigot".

  • ||

    coining even

  • Sevo||

    "Phrase" even...
    Just *couldn't* pass it up, and I'll bet there's something in this post misspelled.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey| 8.14.12 @ 6:55PM |#

    bb...: Organic is a federally enforced process system which forbids the use of biotech inputs.


    No, "organic" is a marketing buzzword that has about the same meaning as "milk from contented cows."

    The fact that producers using the marketing buzzword "organic" have convinced a federal government agency to formalize the term "organic" into some set of federal standards is beside the point.

  • ||

    Actually, "milk from contented cows" probably has more meaning since there is some evidence that cows who are not stressed produce better milk, while there is absolutely no evidence that plants have any idea whether nitrogen from cowshit is any different than nitrogen from industrial fertilizers is.

  • Sevo||

    Isaac Bartram| 8.14.12 @ 11:28PM |#
    ..."while there is absolutely no evidence that plants have any idea whether nitrogen from cowshit is any different than nitrogen from industrial fertilizers is."

    *I* do. The cow shit can make you sick.

  • ||

    Yeh, but you're not a vegetable...

  • SKR||

    Mmmm, copper sulphate. Gotta love that organic produce.

    How is CuSO4 organic again?

  • Ron Bailey||

    IB: With due respect, nearly 600 pages of federal regulations say I'm right.

  • ||

    I love it when you play in the threads Ron. Part of why you are one of my favorite contributors around here.

  • PeaceKeeker||

    Bullshit... Look people have the right to know what's going into our bodies whether it's "harmless" or "not". I remember a time when people though cigarettes were actually good for you, then oh yeah we know have surgen general warnings. This isn't "anti-science" this is pro-knowledge. As in the knowledge that whats being put into my body is natural or GE. Anti-science would be us taking money out of the school system, oh wait we are doing that! WTF!

  • ||

    So, fine. Anti-GMO luddites can label their foods "NO GMO", "ORGANIC", "PURE", "NATURAL", or whatever other marketing buzzword they want to use. Or for that matter "packaged by elves". Or "NO CHEMICALS" (presumably only spiritual ingredients).

    Compelling producers who have done nothing other than to use absolutely harmless ingredients to put some kind of "red letter" on their ingredients is utterly ridiculous.

    GMO ingredients are completely harmless. If you want to convince consumers otherwise you really need to come up with something better than that you are prepared to kill them if they don't share your preferences.

  • SKR||

    No chemicals is going to be a tough one to back up. Lol

  • ||

    Do you have the "right to know" whether your food was packaged by homosexuals?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Finally, I generally eat organic foods only when I am served them by others, e.g., by friends and at restaurants. They usually taste OK.

    Usually? Can you be more specific?

    "There is no soy milk because there is no soy titty."

    - Lewis Black

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Shucks. No similar label on organic foods about the significant increase in likelihood of being affected by E.Coli or salmonella?

    But it's *SO* unlike the Left Wing to go and patronize the same sort of Lobby-appeasal they spent 80% of the calendar year whinging about.

  • vek||

    1

    Oh hell. I just had to sign up an account for this one! I'm AMAZED by the number of people on here who are so "anti-organic", and especially claiming that it's the "scientific" thing to do. As I will say in a minute, that's pretty darn debatable if you look into the other side for more than a few minutes.

    First off, I eat mostly organic food. Not a tree hugging hippie, and will explain my reasons below. Second, I am a fairly ardent libertarian. Downright hardcore on many issues. But, there are some things in my mind where it's hard to really draw a practical line once in awhile. This is one of them. While I am obviously opposed to government forcing people to do anything in principle, labeling is one of the fairly low impact things that I think isn't entirely unreasonable in many cases. It doesn't cost companies much, especially if it's just a matter of making people aware. It's nothing like the level of stupidity of required crash testing for cars, or requiring everyone to buy healthcare!

    So on to the debate at hand, I'm in favor of people being able to know. As has been mentioned we didn't know lead was harmful for millennia, it was everywhere. In paint, in food containers, etc. Science is not perfect. I'm a huge fan of science, but it's not. I believe in the end we'll figure out everything on a given subject. Key thing being "in the end".

  • vek||

    2

    The fact is with a lot of new products they're allowed to just rush on out to the market with no checks or balances in place, which is as it should be. However when people start coming up with "issues" related to a product, I don't have much of an issue with it being labeled. I especially don't think it should be forbidden to allow companies to label that they don't have something. It usually takes decades to scientifically "prove" something is bad, if you assume the position that things start out as being presumed safe. If after a few studies show the possibility of something being harmful, people want it to be labeled with a "This MIGHT cause these issues, we don't know for sure" label, why not. If it's proved to not be the case after some years it could be repealed, but if it is proved change it to "This DOES cause these issues" and let it stay on the market.

    Think BPA. "Health Nuts" have been whining for eons about BPA. Why? There had been evidence slowly building for years that it has gnarly side effects since it mimics estrogen in the body. Makes men more effeminate, lowers their sperm count, increases risk of cancer for men and women, etc. In one study something like 90 percent of men having trouble trying to conceive had considerably higher than average amounts in their system. Keep in mind that's "above average", already taking into account WE ALL have tons of it in our system.

  • vek||

    3

    It's finally got to the point to where "the other side", you "science is always good no matter if it's bad or not!" types I'm seeing here, have had to give up. Just as lead paint makers had to admit lead paint was bad. Just as tobacco companies had to admit smoking was bad. I honestly, after much research, have come to the conclusion GMOs as they stand are in the same boat. I have no problem with it in theory. Genetic engineering is going to be one of the major areas of advancement for our species in the 21st century... All I'm saying is our initial foray might be a bit messed up, as is typical for our species.

    As I said, some new scientific breakthrough is not always as good as it sounds. We're only human, and we tend to do REALLY dumb things sometimes without thinking too far ahead. And that's ok. We HAVE TO. It's what we do. If we didn't try things, and screw up, we'd never get anywhere. The thing is eventually we learn from our mistakes, and perfect things. Look at nuclear. Both our nuclear bomb tests, and reactors, have now probably doomed a couple million people to premature death. Some estimates say Chernobyl alone has caused more than 1 million people to die earlier than they would have because of cancer or other issues. Fukushima has released more radiation than that did already, and will continue to release more for years because they can't even cap it like the Russians did.

  • vek||

    4

    Studies have also been done estimating many more than that have probably died because of all the bomb tests pumping crap tons of radiation into the atmosphere. If you live in Las Vegas, you have a higher chance of dying from cancer courtesy of Uncle Sam's bomb tests. So in the end, who knows how many people have died, but it's plenty. BUT the thing is we've learned some things along the way. We now know how to build pretty darn safe nuclear power plants. And we know not to blow bombs up above ground. If we apply these lessons learned, we'll be better off for having screwed up.

    So we have to acknowledge we screw up sometimes. Probably as often as not it seems like. But it is worth it in the end.

    So, what I really don't get is the whole mentality that many science minded people have, that states when there's a popular theory at the moment "OH MY GOD IT IS 100 PERCENT GUARANTEED TO BE THE TRUTH, AND ANYONE WHO DISAGREES IS AN IDIOT, AND ALSO SHOULD BE BURNED AS A HERETIC!!!"

  • vek||

    5

    That whole attitude is completely anti-science. The whole point of science, and what has always moved it forward, is trying to prove current beliefs to be false! It either reaffirms something to be true... OR cracks start to appear. We thought we had physics down pretty good, enter quantum mechanics. Now we don't know what the hell is going on. But we're working on it! Of course it took decades for the old guard to accept it. That's what ALWAYS happens. So I've never understood people who close their minds to possibilities. You know you don't ALWAYS have to take a side on an issue. It is ok to admit that while there's a strong leaning this way, the other way has some good points too.

    That's where I land on GMO. The fact is it is incorrect to state that there is no evidence linking GMO to health issues. There are European, Japanese, and other civilized countries who have performed tests in government labs that show problems. There are many more private labs that have found issues in the US and worldwide. Why do you think other countries have put limitations on them? Just for the hell of it? Switzerland has banned them completely pending further study, even though one of the leading GMO companies in the world is based there! No, it's because they're taking the "wait and see" approach instead of jumping on the bandwagon. They want to do reasonable studies to see the effects before they allow it. Not that I'm in favor of the government BANNING GMOs, but for labeling it...

  • vek||

    6

    As much as I despise the socialist policies of the European systems of government, or the Japanese, they do have this weird quirk for disagreeing with US science agencies... A LOT. A question I like to ask people sometimes when discussing some of these types of issues is "Do you think the Germans are incompetent morons? How about the Japanese? They're complete idiots right? The English don't know anything about anything, right? They don't know anything about science? They're a backwards country, right?" Typical response is "Well... No, they're educated countries..." Which is true of course.

    So what do you do when almost every European health agency, the Japanese, Mexico... Almost every industrialized nation in the world... Disagrees with what US government agencies say? Me personally, I call b*llshit on the US agency. And that my friends is what has happened with GMOs, and numerous other similar issues.

    A lot of the issues we're dealing with nowadays are not the "Yup, he just drank a bottle of arsenic, he's gonna die", but rather "Yup, there's a drop of arsenic in that, he's not gonna be in peak shape". I firmly believe from all the "mysterious" skyrocketing of both physical and mental problems, which almost exclusively started post WWII, and which haven't risen in "primitive" countries, that we're slowly poisoning ourselves with an endless array of things. It's really nearly impossible to dispute. The only question is what things are causing what problems.

  • vek||

    7

    Some of them are completely out in the open at this point as having negative effects, like BPA. Others however are just now starting to build their evidence because they haven't been around as long, or simply no one thought of looking into them until recently. Cell phones for example. After years and years of companies denying everything, they've started to crack. There's starting to be too much evidence that they do increase the chance of tumors/cancer. We're at the "Well maybe it's bad" stage instead of the "It's definitely not a problem at all" stage as we were a few years back. Give it another few years and it will simply be commonly accepted and not denied, like with smoking. One article I read said something like 30-40 million people might die from cell phone use in the next 50 years, or something to that effect. Worth it? Maybe. I'm not chucking mine yet, but I accept I'm likely increasing my chances of cancer for the convenience.

    GMO is right there with cell phones, just a few years behind. There were studies showing cell phones were bad in the 90s. I'm from Silicon Valley, and my father is a tech guy, and was actually told by a scientist he knew who worked for a big cell company back in 98/99ish that internal studies they'd done had showed increases in brain tumors. He told him to use speakerphone or a wired headset. So the industry insiders were pretty sure of it even back then while publicly denying it.

  • vek||

    8

    There are some studies showing GMO has issues. Also, there have been whistle blowers from inside some of the companies who have said they themselves know there are issues. Interestingly enough, studies tend to fall into pretty nice categories. GMO companies research, or research commissioned by them, and US agencies show they're fine. Independent or EU/Japanese/Mexican studies have shown they're not so perfect. Not so say our lovely bureaucratic overlords might be taking bribes, even though a lot of them go on to work for the same companies they said were ok after leaving the government... But you never know...

    There are tests that have showed organs growing at different rates in lab rats than normal when they were fed an entirely GMO diet, as well as other similar abnormalities not experienced when eating even conventional crops grown with pesticides. Fertility issues. Etc etc etc.

    There are the potential blowback issues from GMO crops infecting other crops. If they are found to be bad, the US has practically already infected all of certain seed types with their genes. There are all the farmers who have gotten sick or died handling GMO cotton, when you don't get those issues with traditional pesticide sprayed cotton. Tons of other "weird" things that have either been reported anecdotally, or through empirical evidence.

  • vek||

    9

    Then we could also move on to the even more interesting aspects, such as the fact that many large scale studies have shown that GMO crops actually don't increase crop yields over conventional farming... Or even well done organic. Many crops had increased yields for the first few years, then decline to levels lower than "conventional" farming. Interestingly with many of them the amount of pesticides required, which is supposed to be none to minimal on account of them being GMO, actually skyrockets over time due to pests adapting faster since traditional rotation and other things that WERE used with older methods are ignored because they presumably aren't needed... But are.

    Some have even shown that with SCIENTIFICALLY based organic farming practices (heavy research into how microbes interact with soil, crop rotation, irrigation, etc etc) you can actually get yields higher than the average conventional crops, or GMO crops, with fewer inputs (pesticides and synthetic fetilizers obviously, but also water and oil for fuel etc). How? SCIENCE!

    Science isn't only about what chemical or gadget you can create to do a quick trick for you. It's also about how to work WITH the natural systems and laws of nature, to your advantage of course. You don't see a lot of seeding clouds to make it rain, even though it's been able to be done for many decades, and is a totally awesome whiz bang cool thing we can do.

  • vek||

    10

    Why? It's easier to let the rain fall where it wants, and dig a canal to take it where we need it. Digging a ditch is about as low tech as it gets, but it makes waaay more sense. Now our science is getting better with working with crops. We could actually produce considerably more food if everything were done with the most up to date organic methods than we do right now using GMO/conventional.

    A lot of these really over the top organic guys have found ways to increase yields. Others have done hard research into the nutrition of the food to increase it's actual healthfulness. Oh, that's right properly raised organic food tends to have more nutrients in it. Sometimes it's negligible, other times it's not, depending on the particular product, and the grower. A newly made organic farm will produce lower nutrient fruit than one that's been organic for 30 years that has built up the soil... Silly little things like actually having all the nutrients in the soil, instead of the plant equivalent of an all carb diet. Farmers used to know about that sort of thing before they could just give their crops endless "calories" without any nutrients and still get something to grow. It's the human equivalent of eating nothing but McDonalds and potato chips, and has been documented scientifically countless times.

  • vek||

    11

    Now I'm no hippie. I hate liberal-hippie-tree-hugger idiots. But those types have brought up issues that are of some importance from time to time. Like I said, science isn't perfect, and we do screw up a lot. A lot of the time it bites us in the ass. I can tell you one thing for sure, SOMETHING we've been doing wrong since the 1950s has REALLY screwed up our health.

    There are thousands of studies linking thousands of variables to little bits and pieces of the overall issue. This thing raises cancer rates by 5 percent. That thing increases the chance of diabetes. This other thing lowers fertility. Blah blah blah. You could go on for days. All I know is that when people ate food that wasn't covered in pesticides, wasn't GMO, they ate a more balanced diet, exercised, didn't drink out of BPA laden containers, or surround themselves with electrical fields and radio wave 24 hours a day, etc etc... You had a lot better odds of not getting cancer, not getting diabetes, autism, and a thousand other illnesses. What exactly does what? We're slowly figuring it out. Just like we figured out lead was bad.

    So I say I'm going to play it safe where I find it convenient. I'm keeping the cell phone, but I make good money and can buy all organic. A lot of it actually tastes a hell of a lot better too, which is a nice bonus since you're paying more!

  • vek||

    12

    Organic Valley pasture raised half and half tastes 10 times richer than Darigold or whatever store brand you buy. I pay my $3.99 for a quart, get to have a better cup of tea, no antibiotics or anything else leaching into my system, and feel ok about the whole thing. My organic free range chicken eggs have more protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Not a bad thing, right? My grass fed beef also has no antibiotics, more nutrients, less fat, and tastes fine by me.

    The trick of it with GMO, or any of these other "whacky" health issues, is that none of them will kill you outright. Not a one. But they don't do you any favors. Maybe in another 10 years they'll have completely disproved the GMO studies that have shown the problems... Or maybe they will stack up more evidence against it. Who can say for sure. But scientists are working on it, and in time we'll have a better idea of what's what. These things simply take time. It's easy to see how being a mile away from a nuclear blast will kill you with radiation, but it took us a lot longer to determine people who lived next to radio/TV broadcast towers had higher rates of cancer too. But we did, and they do. When I see a new thing floating around out there, industry of course says it's fine, but when independent studies start saying otherwise, even occasionally, I figure you might as well avoid it if it's possible.

  • vek||

    13

    As for labeling, I say do it. It doesn't have to be a big deal, and it won't cost anyone much to implement. Most people won't care, and the ones that do will appreciate it. I know I'd buy some products if they were non GMO but not necessarily organic. Pesticides have a fairly known, and relatively mild averse effect on people. If the European study about people actually buying the stuff even though they don't like it is any indication there should be nothing to worry about... Unless evidence keeps stacking up against it of course.

  • misjoyo||

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  • jason||

    Its all about the profit and the development which is going to rules the upcoming time, which state have more money that state will rule the nation.

  • Ardelle||

    The biggest donor is Mercola Health Resources run by Chicago osteopath and self-styled alternative medicine guru Joseph Mercola, who promotes his sketchy supplements through his online health newsletter. Mercola has donated $800,000 to the campaign.

  • jameselgringo||

    This is the usual penny-wise and pound-foolish libertarian answer. If GMO food is cheaper, most people will buy it. It doesn't cost more to say "GMO corn" instead of "corn" on the package. The real cost of GMO food is what it's doing to farming and what we're (the gov't) allowing Monsanto (et al) get away with contaminating other crops with their GMO pollen and then suing those people with patent law. The GMO crops require extra petroleum and extra water (to activate the herbicides) to grow and as such aren't very sustainable anyway. This is going to catch up with us sooner rather than later.

  • sciencenerd||

    To me, a main point being missed is that Prop 37 wants WARNING labels put on GMO foods. While I do not have a problem with food being labeled (for example, country of origin, organic, etc), I have a HUGE problem with GMO foods have a warning label. The science does not support warnings as no adverse effects have been proven to arise from the consumption of GMO food. Prop 37 wants to force GMO food producers to LIE and say that their food is not safe. WTF?

  • numnumnum||

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