Anti-Biotech Activists Kill and Blind More Kids

Vitamin A DeficiencyUniversity of IowaEarlier this month, my colleague Katherine Mangu-Ward reported on a group of Filipino farmers, goaded by disinformation promoted by anti-biotech activist groups like Greenpeace, who invaded and destroyed crop fields at the International Rice Research Institute where researchers were growing Golden Rice. That biotech rice variety has been enhanced to produce beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. As Mangu-Ward noted:

The rice, which was just weeks away from being harvested, was part of the required trials to get the rice approved for distribution in a country where approximately 1.7 million kids below the age of 5 are deficient in Vitamin A, and therefore more susceptible to infection and blindness.

The activist campaign against crop biotechnology is every bit as scientifically ignorant as the attacks on polio vaccination in benighted places like Nigeria, Sudan, and Pakistan. On Sunday, a New York Times feature article, "Golden Rice: A Life Saver?," reported that this sorry episode of what amounts to anti-scientific terrorism has aroused some push-back from scientists:

The destruction of the field trial, and the reasons given for it, touched a nerve among scientists around the world, spurring them to counter assertions of the technology’s health and environmental risks. On a petition supporting Golden Rice circulated among scientists and signed by several thousand, many vented a simmering frustration with activist organizations like Greenpeace, which they see as playing on misplaced fears of genetic engineering in both the developing and the developed worlds. Some took to other channels to convey to American foodies and Filipino farmers alike the broad scientific consensus that G.M.O.’s are not intrinsically more risky than other crops and can be reliably tested. 

At stake, they say, is not just the future of biofortified rice but also a rational means to evaluate a technology whose potential to improve nutrition in developing countries, and developed ones, may otherwise go unrealized.

“There’s so much misinformation floating around about G.M.O.’s that is taken as fact by people,” said Michael D. Purugganan, a professor of genomics and biology and the dean for science at New York University, who sought to calm health-risk concerns in a primer on GMA News Online, a media outlet in the Philippines: “The genes they inserted to make the vitamin are not some weird manufactured material,” he wrote, “but are also found in squash, carrots and melons.” ...

“It is long past time for scientists to stand up and shout, ‘No more lies — no more fear-mongering,’ ” said Nina V. Fedoroff, a professor at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and a former science adviser to the American secretary of state, who helped spearhead the petition. “We’re talking about saving millions of lives here.”

It's also way past time for the editors of the New York Times to stop publishing the profoundly ignorant anti-biotech screeds penned by likes of Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman. These ideologues promote every one of the "Top 5 Lies About Biotech Crops."

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  • Sheriff Bart||

    But Monsanto! Korporations! Koch! Bushitler!

  • Sheriff Bart||

    And fist! Who said it was bad to be unemployed?

  • Dweebston||

    Somewhere around seven or eleven percent of the population, depending on which measure you use.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Greenpeace declared Golden Rice witchcraft?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Actually, I think they told them that it was Golden Showers Rice, irrigated with the urine collected in the stalls of America.

  • Andrew S.||

    Like anti-vaccination idiocy, it's another example about how many people on the left, while claiming to be all for the poor and unfortunate, are a far bigger danger to those people than any of the "CORPORATIONS!!!!" they complain about.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It also belies their "we're the Science! people" bullshit.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Yep, I wonder if Tony will show up in this thread and declare "The science is settled". Somehow I doubt it.

  • Tonio||

    Except that anti-vaxers isn't really an exclusively leftist thing. Nor an exclusively rightist thing. There are people on the fringes of both teams who are ant-vaxers, plus a number of people who don't identify with either team.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    That doesn't fit the narative here tonio. the right are not perfect but the left are pure evil parasitic pieces of shit, just keep repeating that and you'll do fine.

  • Dweebston||

    Because anti-corporatism isn't predominantly leftist, right? Jenny McCarthy and her former lackey Jim "Cold Dead Hands" Carrey aren't at all partisans, and Greenpeace can best be described as mixed company, politically speaking. I'm certain a poll anti-vaxxers would be split down the middle.

  • Finrod||

    Facts are often inconvenient to Team Blue.

  • ||

    They're not for the poor. They just want to make sure that the poor stay poor.

  • Wizard4169||

    If the poor and downtrodden weren't poor and downtrodden anymore, then they'd be out of a job. You don't want to put such wonderful, compassionate people out of a job, do you?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    These anti-GMO terrorists are disgusting.

  • ubik||

    Didn't some Greenpeace higher up once go on record (let slip what I really think) regarding saving lives in the developing world via malaria vaccines etc saying "better dead than alive and reproducing"...charming, let only the "right" kind of people get a chance at life

    Nauseating, truly vile.

  • some guy||

    It was a USAID higher up and he was talking about DDT, not vaccines. But same idea.

  • ||

    Environmentalists are superstitious Luddite morons? Who knew?

  • sarcasmic||

    Environmentalists are mental.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Too bad Vitamin A isn't found in strange things like liver, paprika, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens (please feel free to take them from my yard!), spinach, collards, butternut squash, parsley, basil, marjoram, oregano, lettuce, apricots and cantaloupe.

  • LynchPin1477||

    True but rice is a staple food for much of the world's population. And it can be stored and shipped much more easily and cheaply than almost all the foods you list.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Cheaper and easier then dried parsley?

  • LynchPin1477||

    You'll notice I said almost all the foods you mentioned. I suspect it is more calorie dense than dried parsley. And billions of people around the world have a food culture that is built on rice. I don't think the same is true of parsley.

  • John||

    Yes. This is what people eat and this is what they grow. Only a fucking moron would think sending them parsley is a viable alternative than putting it in the food they already eat.

  • ||

    We're talking about people who are so poor they can't afford to eat anything but rice. And this guy thinks that they can afford seasonings.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Dandelions are weeds. Liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach, collards, butternut squash, lettuce, apricots and cantaloupe are not seasonings. It's unlike you to argue dishonestly, sir.

    A popular meme around here (used to be, at least) that one of the great problems in the world is that people are kept unnecessarily poor. Enriching the world is no longer an acceptable libertarian solution?

  • trig||

    Guess they should have just gone down to their local whole foods...

  • ||

    Enriching the world is no longer an acceptable libertarian solution?

    It's difficult to understand why the "enrichment" must come by forcing people in rice-staple cultures and where half of your preferred foodstuffs don't fucking grow to eat something they don't like/want/can't farm instead of letting them buy GMO rice for pennies more that is nutrient fortified.

  • SForza||

    No one on this thread is talking about forcing anyone to eat/farm anything they don't want to eat/farm. No one is defending the actions of the anti-GMO activists who destroyed the fields. No one.

    The argument is between people who think this is a biological problem & "golden rice fix everything", and those who think this is a governance problem, where traditional foodstuffs rich in vit A are being crowded out by rice being grown in ways & in quantities to meet govt agricultural policies.

    No matter how thin & hungry the native farmers may have been, there was enough squash, greens, and herbs to prevent vit A deficiency from being a major problem. Govt policies have made it a major problem. Golden rice will probably work to alleviate vit A deficiency, but the diet will remain simple & nutrient-deficient compared to a traditional diet.

    Getting rid of the govt policies that caused this seems like a much better (and much more libertarian) approach.

  • sarcasmic||

    Who eats a bowl of dried parsley?

  • LynchPin1477||

    I once made sausage but didn't realize I was supposed to use fresh instead of dry herbs, and the amounts were specified by weight. That was basically like eating dried parsley and oregano. It was not appetizing.

  • some guy||

    On the plus side you could use your sausage to spice other dishes.

  • LynchPin1477||

    That is basically what I did. I got unseasoned tomato sauce and slow cooked the sausages in that. Threw it all on a roll with some cheese. It was tolerable in a state of drunkenness.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I'm reminded of the ads that used to run in The Black and Blue Jay that promoted "Eat your parsley" paid for by the national parsley growers association.

    Where's Epi? He probably still has a copy he can scan in.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Who eats a bowl of dried parsley?

    OK, so all the women want a piece of me today.

  • ||

    You clearly haven't noticed that spices are one of the most expensive things per pound you can buy in the supermarket.
    How much cooking do you actually do?

  • LynchPin1477||

    Just toss in a few kilos of saffron there, and you'll get all the nutrients you need!

  • ||

    Yes, who needs Golden Rice when you can just add saffron?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    You clearly haven't noticed that spices are one of the most expensive things per pound you can buy in the supermarket.

    I don't buy parsley. The stuff is growing all around my yard.

    How much cooking do you actually do?

    Lots. I enjoy cooking so much I went to Steven Raichlen's Barbecue University and have attended a number of seminar programs at NECI.
    I cook breakfast (typically some variation on bacon and eggs or steak and eggs) and dinner a lot. Lunch is usually leftovers. I made barbecue chicken with homemade rub and injected butter sauce tonight. Yesterday I grilled ground goat kabobs stuffed with herb cheese and chipotles. Tomorrow will be my take on chicken cordon bleu, with black forest ham and muenster cheese. Saturday I made sugar-free vanilla bean ice cream from milk from my own goats.

  • ||

    Sounds like just the kind of thing a dirt farmer in the Philippines would whip up on a typical Monday. Thank Gaia you have the solution for earth's perfect diet!

  • SForza||

    Tell me more about your first-hand knowledge of Filipino dirt farmers and their eating habits.

  • Sevo||

    Live Free or Diet| 8.26.13 @ 11:47AM |#
    "Cheaper and easier then dried parsley?"

    What right do you have to stick your nose where it doesn't belong?
    You don't like rice? Don't eat it.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    OK... My point is simply that it doesn't take GM rice to keep kids from going blind. It's a false dichotomy.

    Actually, my problem with rice is I like the stuff way too much.

  • SForza||

    Sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash all store easily for months, sometimes years. Peppers, parsley, basil, marjoram, oregano, and apricots dry easily and store indefinitely. And the greens LFoD mentioned are cultivated weeds that grow easily, abundantly, and throughout the year.

    Point being, stupid agricultural practices created a problem that didn't exist before. Rather than fix those practices, they're trying to bio-engineer around it. That should be legal, and a-holes shouldn't go around destroying the property of others, but the claims of "we NEED bio rice... for the childrenz!" are annoying and untrue.

  • ||

    Right, malnutrition didn't exist before industrial agriculture. Everyone lived together in a happy smurf village with free range chickens and cows.

  • SForza||

    Vitamin A deficiency doesn't exist outside of monoculture farming. That type of farming tends to be industrial, but it can be pre-industrial as well. Regardless, almost all edible weeds have plentiful amounts of vitamin A. And like the name suggests, weeds grow like weeds.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Yes, some of those can be stored for a while, but not as easily or as long as rice. I can stick rice in my pantry for years without any special handling. I shudder to think what a squash would look like if I did that. As for the spices and other dried things, exactly how much do you have to eat (and spend) to get any appreciable nutritional value? And just because weeds can be grown easily doesn't mean people want to eat them.

    You'll have to clue me in what agricultural practices are to blame for poor vitamin A intake in these countries. Rice has been the major food source in much of the world of centuries. As far as I know, people didn't suddenly drop parsley and squash from their diets.

  • Fluffy||

    Anytime anything dietary comes up some of these paleo assholes turn into White Indian.

    "Why didn't those kids who went blind just gambol somewhere, hunt an aurochs with a sharpened stick, and eat its liver?"

    Fucking paleos, man.

  • ||

    Obviously, the agricultural city-state is responsible for Vitamin A deficiency.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    The essential argument is this one product is the only way to keep children from being blinded. I gave alternatives to the false dichotomy. Sorry to have offended you.

  • ||

    The essential argument is this one product is the only way to keep children from being blinded.

    That's what you read, because you're a food fascist with an agenda, but that wasn't what the 'essential argument' was. The essential argument was that planting GMO rice that is nutrient-enriched in the very same places where they plant and eat rice is that is not nutrient enriched would be beneficial to the people missing major nutrients because their staple food is rice, and that assholes (like yourself) who want to stop that from happening are, well, assholes.

  • SForza||

    "you're a food fascist with an agenda"

    Project much, PM? Neither LFoD nor anyone else on this thread has called for banning golden rice or stopping it in any other way. What he and others have done is point out is that there are better ways to solve the vit A problem, ways that involve less centralized power. I think your agenda has blinded you to that.

  • SForza||

    Or, umm, go gather some weeds. Which grow everywhere in the fucking world. Which are a part of pretty much every traditional food culture. Which is a simpler, easier solution than having a crony like Monsanto bio-engineer a workaround.

    As far as you thinking of paleos as a group rather than as individuals, fuck you Fluffy.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    As far as you thinking of paleos as a group rather than as individuals,

    My experience is if you ask 10 paleos a question and you'll get at least 12 opinions. That's one of many reasons I'm fairly certain I don't qualify as Paleo. Low carb/high fat, sure. I eat relatively little birdseed, and as little sugar as I can manage. But I'm big on dairy, and I know dairy-heavy cultures like the Masai don't experience the western metabolic disease pattern.

  • SForza||

    Fluffy used the term, so I went with it. I'm fine with the term as long as it's used loosely, something along the lines of "uses an understanding of evolution to guide food choices." Some people seem to handle dairy pretty well, some people seem to handle starches pretty well. No one seems to do well on the "western diet."

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I have no problem with "paleo." If I were disciplined enough in my eating habits, I would probably eat closer to that pattern, but paleo didn't even enter into the simple mention of a couple dozen common, simple foods that provide vitamin A.
    Somehow the mentioning things like lettuce and cantaloupe has gotten these people in such a twist they accuse us of cowardice and supporting terrorism on one side, and "Yikes, tomatoes, basil and oregano? Only if you can make it taste like Papa John's!"

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Anytime anything dietary comes up some of these paleo assholes turn into White Indian.
    "Why didn't those kids who went blind just gambol somewhere, hunt an aurochs with a sharpened stick, and eat its liver?"
    Fucking paleos, man.

    Interesting. I didn't (and don't) advocate any restrictions against Monsanto or rice growing or feeding the whole world with GM products. All I did was point out the facts highlighting a simple false dichotomy.
    Sorry to disturb your karma. Once again, I'm surprised to find simple, verifiable scientific truth to be provocative.

  • SForza||

    I've got a squash in my garage from last year's harvest, about 9 months ago, and it's still good to go. I'm not talking about zucchini or the summer squashes, I'm talking about winter squashes like kabocha, butternut, pumpkins, etc. They store with no handling and can be eaten year-round.

    Monoculture cropping is to blame for poor vitamin A intake, just as it's been responsible for for rickets and pellagra in other cultures that became too dependent on a single grain crop. They don't have to stop growing rice as their staple crop, they just need to allow weeds to grow around the edge of their fields (or paddies). They can then eat the weeds (cooking them with their rice is an easy approach), or they can let chickens or ducks feed on them, then eat the chicken or duck eggs. They'll get plenty of vitamin A either way. Of course, if they let birds be the intermediary, they'll also get lots of protein and fat in the bargain, which will improve their vitamin absorption.

  • SKR||

    well what a great thing it must be to have a garage. Do you have air conditioning and a refrigerator too? I'm guessing you don't live in a tin shack in tropical SE Asia where the rats would have eaten that squash months ago and everything else goes nice and fuzzy very quickly because itis constantly hot and wet, which is nice if you are a lady but it ain't no good if you're in the jungle.

  • SForza||

    Wow. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read your comment.

    Kabocha squash (one of the many winter squashes) is widely grown and eaten in Thailand, among many other nations in SE Asia, and they don't seem to have any trouble keeping the rats and the humidity from destroying it. At least, no more trouble than they have keeping rats and humidity away from their rice.

    I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    At least, no more trouble than they have keeping rats and humidity away from their rice.

    Boys in the Philippines hunt rats in the rice paddies, much like we hunted squirrels as children. Going through an open market outside the city, a young lady I was with warned me not to buy from one vendor explaining it was "field rat." She thought eating it would be too low class, but she was fine with the dog entrée at dinner. (?!)

  • MJGreen||

    Good point. We could also engage in centrally planned, world-wide redistribution to ensure that every person gets a vitamin-rich diet. So obviously golden rice isn't needed.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    If he said anything like that, I didn't see it.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "but the claims of "we NEED bio rice... for the childrenz!" are annoying and untrue."

    wow someone on reason making sense. If they are so poor they can't afford a sweet potato they either have population or corruption problem. If golden rice is the only thing anyone is willing to do to address this problem then sure in that sense I support it. But it is a lesser of many options. All this blindness could have been wiped out with vitamins or ag support while working on the underlying issues whatever they may be.

  • SForza||

    "they either have population or corruption problem"

    Exactly. This isn't a biological problem, but a governance problem. Golden rice should work to treat one symptom of the problem (vit A deficiency), but the only way to fix the problem is to fix govt agricultural policies-- get rid of subsidies and other distortions of the markets.

    Personally, I'm skeptical of GMO (since its biggest pushers are crony capitalists like Monsanto), but I don't want it banned (like in Europe) or vandalized (like in the Philippines in this story).

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    ", but I don't want it banned (like in Europe) or vandalized (like in the Philippines in this story)."

    yea I agree but even those moderate views are a taboo here. They'll even claim that to mention population makes you antihuman which I think is ridiculous. The people who want as many people as possible living at subsistence are antihuman.

  • ||

    If they are so poor they can't afford a sweet potato they either have population or corruption problem.

    Totally! I mean, people who've been growing and subsisting off a staple food for millennia are obviously just a bunch of ignorant cunts too blinded by their capitalist false consciousness to see that they are being manipulated by BIG AG. So fuck them. If they'd rather grow evil KKKORPURASHUN rice than eat squash and parsley, they don't deserve to be wasting oxygen (which will soon be in short supply, by the way. Have you heard the good news about our lord and savior Thomas Malthus?)

    Both of you should go get fucked with a rusty railroad spike along the Greenpeace cunts out doing the terroristic shit you support but don't have the balls to do yourself.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Both of you should go get fucked with a rusty railroad spike along the Greenpeace cunts out doing the terroristic shit you support but don't have the balls to do yourself.

    Bad day? Trouble sleeping? Need a hug?
    I never said what Monsanto wants to do is evil, nor do I support the destruction of their test crops. I don't even oppose them being grown as crops to feed the masses. I'm just saying "false dichotomy."

  • SForza||

    PM, you intentionally ignorant cunt, the staple crop of rice has traditionally been supplemented with vitamin-rich foods, so that vitamin deficiencies have not been a traditional problem in the Philippines. They are a recent problem. That recent problem is not that people suddenly don't want to eat these vitamin-rich foods. The problem is govt policies favoring commercial production of rice and the tax dollars it brings with it.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Thank you, SForza. Well said.

  • SForza||

    You're welcome. I'm surprised by how progtarded most of the commenters are on this thread. I think GMO food should be legal, I just think it needs to be clearly labeled--so consumers who wish to be GMO-free can do so-- and kept from migrating to non-GMO fields-- so farmers who wish to be GMO-free can do so.

  • ||

    Concern troll is concerned.

    Yes, obviously it's the people who oppose burning GMO crops and favor allowing Philippine dirt farmers to conduct business with TEH EVUL KKKORPORASHUNS! and grow nutrient enriched rice who are the progtards. Not the ones who insist on telling the Philippine dirt farmer to grow parsley and expand the food labeling bureaucracy to assuage their Luddite paranoia.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Concern troll is concerned.

    This coming from the parsley troll.

  • SForza||

    PM, I see you prefer a diet of strawmen.

  • ||

    Your point being?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Let them eat dandelions.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Dandelion greens are certainly easy to grow.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Rice farmers seem to be doing pretty well growing rice.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    LynchPin1477| 8.26.13 @ 11:51AM |#

    "Rice farmers seem to be doing pretty well growing rice."

    Except for the fucking blindness right? Did you even read the article?

  • LynchPin1477||

    They are not having any problem growing large quantities of rice, which was the point of these particular comments.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    sorry lol I was all hopped up from the other thread when I wrote that. Came across as more aggressive than I intended.

  • SForza||

    Rice farmers seem to be doing pretty poorly growing rice.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Rice farmers seem to be doing pretty poorly growing rice.

    So the argument against natural sources of vitamin A split into
    "Weeds are too expensive."
    "It's beneath people going blind to eat sweet potatoes."
    "Dirt farmers can't be expected to grow traditional dirt farmer crops."

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    People eat what they want to eat. So unless you've got some magical method for making people want to eat dandelions, I think rice will be a better choice in terms of results.

  • SForza||

    Right. Agriculture is totally a free market, and people are just eating what they want to eat. Not distorted by subsidies and central planning. Nope, not at all. That's why we grow so much soy in the U.S., because it's so fucking delicious that people can't get enough.

  • some guy||

    We're not against ending the ag subsidies. But that doesn't mean we have to be against bio-tech too.

  • Sevo||

    SForza| 8.26.13 @ 12:08PM |#
    "Right. Agriculture is totally a free market, and people are just eating what they want to eat."

    Where did you get your degree in irrelevance?

  • SForza||

    I'm sorry you don't seem to understand the relevance.

    Why are farmers growing abundant amounts of rice, but insufficient amounts of the many, many crops that can prevent vitamin A deficiency? Could it be the agricultural policies of these countries? Do you think, without government interference in markets, that farmers might actually have no trouble meeting nutritional needs?

    I swear, this thread sounds like people blaming the market for problems with healthcare, and demanding government action to solve it.

  • ||

    Do you think, without government interference in markets, that farmers might actually have no trouble meeting nutritional needs?

    Do you think, without interference in markets, that farmers might actually want to grow nutrient-enriched crops that their regional consumer based actually wants to eat?

    It's hilariously ironic that you (rightly) blame central planning for one problem, but that your favored solution seems to imply no less a degree of central planning, as if farmers, particularly poverty farmers in rural developing countries, will coalesce around the idea of complete nutritional balance for the polity and farm accordingly. If When your favored diet fad doesn't happen to magically spring forth, guided by the invisible agriculture hand as if self-evident, how do you propose keeping peasant farmers from dirtying their hands with evil Monsanto crops? Don't bother answering: you already told us up thread. They should just fuck off and die, because if they don't want to eat the weeds you've chosen for them, they clearly aren't fit for planet earth. Let freedom ring.

  • SForza||

    My favored solution doesn't involve any central planning, proglodyte, it involves ending the central planning currently happening. That's it.

    Now, go fuck a strawman and die.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Then make dandelions taste like corn and there will be no problems.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Then make dandelions taste like corn and there will be no problems.

    This sounds like a job for GMOs!! Or wait, does that defeat the purpose? I'm not even sure what the original objection was.

  • ||

    I have to wonder, what do they think will happen if GMOs are allowed?

    Do they think that somehow "superweeds" are going to lead to a total collapse of the ecosystem? Do they really think that the earth is that fragile that the ecology of the entire planet is just going to implode because we have slightly different versions of rice and corn?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I have to wonder, what do they think will happen if GMOs are allowed?

    I think, like most fields of endeavor, some good products with come of it, some bad, and some that will become curiosities for future generations to laugh at us about.

    The truth is that genetic modification of food by humans goes back centuries, otherwise we'd still be eating einkorn or emmer. Many of our common breads and nearly all our deserts would be impossible to make. Also, I imagine wheat yields would be a shockingly small fraction of today's.
    Hell, just look at the difference between the angus, hereford and gurnsey and tell me we weren't long-ago modifying our food!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Then make dandelions taste like corn and there will be no problems.

    Most places around the world I've been to consider corn to be pig food.
    And with how people are reacting to my comments today, let me point out I've grilled corn to have with dinner four times this summer.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Your point being?

    We're being presented with the false dichotomy of golden rice or blind children. Should we try this to help prevent blindness? Sure, and I hope it works. But it seems to me the real problem is the poverty and the roots of that poverty.

  • ||

    But it seems to me the real problem is the poverty and the roots of that poverty.

    No shit huh? Who'da thunk it. Do you think that might, like, be part of the reason for these people subsisting on rice, as both consumers and farmers? Well it all makes total sense now. We don't need to give those people GMO crop options that could alleviate nutritional deficiencies. We just need to completely restructure their government, society, and culture, completely liberalizing their governments and markets! Or failing that, you know, just... plant dandelions?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    OK, so false dichotomy doesn't bother you. So much for getting you to vote third party, huh?

  • ubik||

    For a very interesting and insightful account into how many on the political left mutated into the irrational anti-life neo-luddites many are now check out "The Higher Superstition" by two scientists a mathematician and a biologist, Gross and Leavitt. How a world view can turn into a pathology with very real and terrible consequences.

  • John||

    It is a death cult. That is all progressivism is these days.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    That's not to say that it is an inferior philosophy, of course. It's just different and equally valid.

  • John||

    No to me. But to you for sure. Who are you to say it is wrong? All you have is your little made up rules. I am sure they all wrong by your little rules.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    So if you believe in God you can call it a death cult but if you don't, you can't. It makes perfect sense to judge the validity of an argument based on the thoughts of a supernatural being whose existence can't be proven. Only believers can judge, even though their book tells them not to judge. Glorious.

  • ubik||

    One of the central claims made in the above book was many academics, particularly in Humanities Depts were functional illiterates with respect to science, what it is, how it works, methodology etc. Those on the receiving end of the books criticism were very upset, many banded together to forumlate a respone in the journal Social Text and the editors put out a call for papers. Meanwhile a traditionally leftist, a physicist Alan Sokal, was so alarmed at what the book had revealed decided to test the claims of scietific ignorance by writing a fake/hoax science article that was literally gibberish from beginning to end. He sent his "paper" to the editors to be published in the journal issue inteneded to rebut the claims of scientific illiteracy. They promptly accepted the paper and published it. Then Sokal announced the paper was a hoax very publically confirming one of the central claims of the book. Google "Sokal hoax" very interesting and revealing.

  • John||

    I have read about that.

  • Irish||

    A consistent analysis would lead to the conclusion that understanding nature as a woman indifferent to or even welcom­ing rape was equally fundamental to the interpretations of these new conceptions of nature and inquiry. Presumably these metaphors, too, had fruitful pragmatic, methodological, and metaphysical consequences for science. In that case, why is it not as illuminating and honest to refer to Newton’s laws as “Newton’s rape manual” as it is to call them “Newton’s mechanics”?

    -Sandra Harding

    Science is rape. Of course they hate it.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Wow. That is funny.

  • SugarFree||

    “Is e=mc2 a sexed equation? Perhaps it is. Let us make the hypothesis that it is insofar as it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us. What seems to me to indicate the possible sexed nature of the equation is not directly its uses by nuclear weapons, rather it is having privileged what goes the fastest.”

    -Luce Irigaray

  • some guy||

    This is parody right? Tell me this is parody. I don't think I could stand it if this is not parody.

  • SugarFree||

    Sorry.

  • ubik||

    The above only hints at the insanity soberely and very sincerely advanced by the books targets, some the highest paid academics around (with very, very red faces after Alan Sokal was through with them).

  • LynchPin1477||

    Note to dipshit: The speed of light is privileged over other speeds because it is a fundamental constant limit that is woven into the very fabric of physical reality. And what the hell is a sexed equation anyway? This is fucking infuriating.

  • ubik||

    I'm afraid you're trapped within the hegemony of Western, oppressive, masculinist, enlightement values and truly need to trancend such pronto.

  • SugarFree||

    Lynch is clearly advancing a cisscience view based on evidenconormativity. He needs to check his fact privilege.

  • LynchPin1477||

    /curls up in ball
    /cries for future of hummanity

  • Marshall Gill||

    evidenconormativity.

    Nice.

  • LynchPin1477||

    No, you know what, the speed of light isn't privileged. That itself is an absurd statement. It exists in the equation because without it, the equation wouldn't be correct in the units that we typically use.

  • Cyto||

    Don't you other her!

  • some guy||

    Maybe she was simply arguing for the use of natural units?

    E = m.

  • Finrod||

    Wow, this is literally the dumbest thing I've read in months, and I've been spending too much time arguing with trolls lately.

  • ||

    The thing with Greenpease, Friends of the Earth, and so on is that they probably couldn't stop fearmongering about GMOs even if they wanted to. It brings in so much money.

    Seriously. Food is something that touches a nerve. It's biologically wired. It's a lot easier to get people irrationally wound up about what they are eating than about the distant prospect of climate change. It's more tangible, it's more immediate, and it goes directly in your body. So it's a lot easier to get donations by fear mongering about GMOs than about global warming.

    As many people have noted there are a lot of charitable orgnizations that take on a life of their own once their primary mission has succeeded. Greenpeace started to protest nuclear weapons, moved on to nuclear power, and since nukes are largely a non-issue now, they would have no reason to exist if it wasn't for issues like GMOs. They'd practically have to close up shop.

  • Hyperion||

    They could just join the anti-fracking luddite club.

    I envision the following scene when the new anti-frackers make a TV commercial.

    Anti-fracker drinks glass of tap water, spontaneously combusts, disappears. Everyone applauds.

  • ||

    Yeah, I'm sure if they didn't have GMOs they would find some other subject to fearmonger about.

  • Hyperion||

    Last week, angry activists destroyed test fields of beta carotene–enriched golden rice in the Philippines.

    They should have been shot dead, end of story.

  • Finrod||

    And their heads put on pikes around the fields as a warning to the rest of them.

    Kind of like what Vir said to Morden in B5.

  • Hugh Akston||

    On a petition supporting Golden Rice circulated among scientists and signed by several thousand...

    That ought to solve this.

  • ||

    If the media bothers to report on it.

    Most likely they are ashamed that the scientific establishment holds the incorrect view on the subject, and will do their best to avoid reporting it, lest their progressive friends think they've been contaminated by incorrect ideas.

  • PRX||

    but you might get gmo chocolate in jennifer's peanut butter.

  • OldMexican||

    The activist [from Greenpeace et al] campaign against crop biotechnology is every bit as scientifically ignorant as the attacks on polio vaccination in benighted places like Nigeria, Sudan, and Pakistan.


    Which is to say, these are the same activists who also peddle the AGW claptrap every chance they get. With violence. Very pro-science.

    But the science is settled. Right?

  • ||

    Let's separate the two issues.

    When it comes to global warming, whatever you think of it, there is a pretty strong scientific consensus that it is happening, and that human are at least a contributing factor.

    When it comes to GMOs, there is almost NO serious scientific dissent on the subject. There is nothing wrong with them. The only people who claim otherwise are fringe nutjobs who have nothing but speculation.
    There have been repeated statements supporting genetic engineering of crops coming from nearly every major scientific organization remotely related to plant biology over the last 20 years.

    There is no comparison.
    One issue is arguable. The other is not. The anti-GMO activists are ignorant, unscientific, fearmongering, luddites. End of story.

    Don't even think to enhance their credibility by comparing them to climate scientists.

  • John||

    NO the climate scientists are worse. They have lied and destroyed evidence from within the scientific community. The climate scientists are destroying science from within, which in many ways is much worse than barbarians like the GMO crowd.

  • some guy||

    I think the climate scientists are doing basically what most scientists do. It's just that their field has become a political playground. Many climate scientists believe the concensus but are pretty quite on the social-political side of things. They'd be happy to just do the research and ignore the alarmism. But we only ever hear from the dozen or so who have embraced climate change as a political movement.

  • John||

    The problem is that their careers depend on their theory being true. That makes them more than a little susceptible to confirmation bias. They also, because it has gotten so political, have allowed hucksters like Mann to remain in the field.

  • sarcasmic||

    The problem is that their careers depend on their theory being true.

    Close, but not quite.

    Their funding depends on their results pleasing the politicians who write the research grants.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Their funding depends on their results pleasing the politicians who write the research grants.

    I've never completely bought this argument. There are plenty of very powerful and rich private entities with an interest in disproving AGW, if it is indeed wrong. I don't know how much money goes from the federal government into climate change research but I'm willing to bet that the oil, coal, and gas industries, along with some others, could combine to surpass it. They certainly seem to have a strong incentive to do so.

  • sarcasmic||

    There are plenty of very powerful and rich private entities with an interest in disproving AGW, if it is indeed wrong.

    The burden of proof is on those who are trying to prove something, not the other way around. I'm sure that the people who run the oil companies understand this and aren't so stupid that they would to waste money trying to prove a negative. After all, their success is in the real world where they must produce something of value for people who want it, as opposed to being insulated in government or academia.

  • LynchPin1477||

    But you have one side saying that they do have the proof. If that is a lie or shoddy science that enough people believe, then it hurts businesses with a vested interest in fossil fuels. People won't want (or won't be able to get, because of legislation) the product they are making.

    Take the vaccine scare. It wasn't enough for scientists to say "well the burden of proof lies with the anti-vaccine crowd, not with us." It took people who cared going out and actively arguing for vaccines. Even then, plenty of people still buy the anti-vaccine argument.

    I don't see a similar push from companies that have an interest in disproving AGW.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't see a similar push from companies that have an interest in disproving AGW.

    What part of "you can't prove a negative" do you not understand?

  • LynchPin1477||

    If one thinks that the the AGW evidence has been manipulated or fabricated, then one can follow the same methodology and demonstrate a lack of reproducibility. If one thinks the evidence is being misinterpreted, one can argue that, and find evidence that points to a different interpretation.

    This has been done in science lots of times. As an example, people expected to find the ether. It was a rather commonly held belief. They looked for it, they found no evidence for it, and other people came up with alternative explanations for the nature of light.

  • sarcasmic||

    The AGW people can't even reproduce their own results and they lost the data!

    What more do you need, besides the fact that consensus is not science? Consensus is politics. Science is about objective experimentation and repeatability, neither of which describes AGW "science."

  • LynchPin1477||

    The AGW people can't even reproduce their own results and they lost the data!

    I hear people make assertions like this fairly frequently. I don't claim to be a climate change expert, but when I have tried to look into these types of claims, I have always found counter-claims that the criticisms were either poorly made or that they were successfully rebutted. I won't deny that there is controversy, but there always is. You are right that consensus doesn't determine reality but when a substantial majority of researchers who have dedicated their careers to understanding a particular field find broad agreement on something, I tend to trust that. I don't trust every little prediction and claim of future catastrophe that comes out of the models, but that is different than accepting the claim that human activity can and is having an effect on the climate, and that the effect could be pretty costly.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't trust every little prediction and claim of future catastrophe that comes out of the models

    I hope not, because none have predicted anything with any success. The Farmers Almanac has a better success rate than climate scientists.

    but that is different than accepting the claim that human activity can and is having an effect on the climate, and that the effect could be pretty costly.

    That's a circular argument.

    A circular argument is one where the conclusion can be found in the premise. In this case the premise and conclusion are the same: human activity is having an effect on the climate.

    That's a logical fallacy.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I fail to see how my statement is circular, since all I am saying is that I accept that human activity is having an effect on the environment in the form of AGW. But let me explain it in more detail.

    I'm a physicist and I understand the theory behind the greenhouse effect pretty well. I also know of evidence from other planets in the solar system that support it. CO2 and other gases that are a bi-product of much human activity are greenhouse gases. That leads to two interesting questions: is human activity leading to a significant increase in greenhouse gas concentrations? And if so, is that having a measurable effect on the climate? I can get that far with things I understand pretty well. I rely on climate scientists to answer those questions, and I rely on peer review and the consensus of the community when trying to judge whether or not those answers are reliable. From my perspective, the answer to both questions is yes. That leads a third question: what, effect will a changing climate have? That is much more difficult to answer, but there seem to be good reasons to think that the effects may be costly.

  • sarcasmic||

    How would someone disprove AGW?

    Tell me. How do you go about proving a negative?

    What kind of hypothesis do you start out with and what kind of experiments to you try?

    You know .. science. As in, like, scientific method and stuff.

  • ||

    How would someone disprove AGW?

    Lots of ways. Find a correlation between increasing CO2 and decreasing global temperatures.
    Or show that there are time periods similar to the last 100 years in the geological record in which CO2 levels increased spontaneously without a human presence.

    Nobody's trying to prove a negative here. Just because the data may be difficult to obtain doesn't mean the theory isn't falsifiable.

    By contrast "we don't know what could happen! you can't prove that something bad won't happen unless you have omniscient knowledge of everything!" really IS unfalsifiable.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Or show that there are time periods similar to the last 100 years in the geological record in which CO2 levels increased spontaneously without a human presence.

    That's already been done. But then Then they just change the debate to reasons why that doesn't matter.

  • LynchPin1477||

    The articles you linked to seem to be mostly focused on the lag-time between the start of deglaciation and the rise in CO2, and I find the newscientist write up to be reasonable. But the Science article does mention an 80-100 ppmv CO2 increase, which is similar to what is observed over the last several hundred years or so. But the absolute levels still seem to be higher now. And just because a similar increase happened without human intervention doesn't mean that humans can't also cause an increase. To argue otherwise is sort of like saying that, because wildfires start without human intervention, all wildfires must have non-human causes.

  • Contrarian P||

    "Find a correlation between increasing CO2 and decreasing global temperatures."

    If that was done, then it'd be "See? The climate is changing! There's a new Ice Age acoming!" Along with calls for plenty of legislation which will of course fix that problem right on up.

    The problem that I have with "climate science" is that it's become so bound up with political interests that I have a hard time taking anything it produces at face value. If the geologists predict that a certain area is at high risk for earthquakes, I'd probably be concerned. If those geologists promptly bought up beachfront property and moved in after the values crashed because of their predictions, I might be a tad suspicious.

    I think the above poster was right in saying it's really about a series of questions more than any argument. Is the climate changing? If so, is that change because of people? If it is, will that change be harmful in any real sense? If it is, can we do anything to change it? The final question is the one where everything goes off the rails. If we can, what should we do?

  • sarcasmic||

    Scientism.

  • ||

    At least the climate scientists have a plausible THEORY as to why CO2 would lead to warming.

    By comparison the anti-GMO activists have no theory. It's all based on fears about the unknown. We don't know 100% of everything baout how DNA works, so, in their minds, something crazy could happen! Our genes could explode!
    Note that they don't actually propose a biological plausible theory about why gene-spicing could cause our genes to blow up, they they say "But we don't know! You can't PROVE our genes won't explode!" (Well, technically we can, but let's play along with the hypothetical, ok?)

    It's not like climate scientists are out there saying "But you can't PROVE that CO2 WON'T cause global warming, so we should ban it anyway!"

  • sarcasmic||

    It's not like climate scientists are out there saying "But you can't PROVE that CO2 WON'T cause global warming, so we should ban it anyway!"

    In response to the fact that global temperatures haven't done much in the last sixteen years, that's EXACTLY what they're saying.

  • ||

    They're saying "the theory makes sense, even if the data doesn't quite fit it."

    That's different than, "I have no idea how genes actually work, so I think you should just ban stuff because I'm afraid of the unknown."

  • LynchPin1477||

    To be fair, it doesn't matter how much sense a theory makes. If it doesn't fit the data, it is wrong. But a theory isn't usually a monolithic thing. There are various parts, and some can be wrong while others are sound. Science is the process of sorting that out.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: HazelMeade,

    Don't even think to enhance their credibility by comparing them to climate scientists.


    You're missing the point. First, scientific theories are NOT validated through consensus but by observation, and so far, we have only received ad hoc justifications for the inability of the current theory to explain the LACK of "global warming" that their much-vaunted models pronosticated.

    Second, what I am pointing out is that so far as it has happened, it has been mostly bullies from the left and other miscreants who have spearheaded the case for Global Warming. No other scientific "theory" has had such a rabble of rabid supporters with the possible exception of eugenics.

    So YES, I AM comparing the two, precisely because of the company that these two keep.

  • ||

    Believe me when I say that the majority of climate scientists wouldn't be caught dead in the same conference as an anti-GMO activist.

  • OldMexican||

    The destruction of the field trial, and the reasons given for it, touched a nerve among scientists around the world


    Sorry, dudes, but you don't get to show your phony outrage all of a sudden when you remained completely SILENT about the treatment that many of your fellow scientists were receiving from the AGW zealots. Now you will know what kind of monsters you helped nurture. It's ALL on you.

  • Metazoan||

    And the people who argue against GMOs are usually so profoundly ignorant of biology that it surprises me they even came across the topic.

    Also, the funny "reasonableness" of the anti-GMO crowd: We can't approve it because it's not shown to be safe! No we won't let you test it!

  • ||

    It all comes from the apocalyptic nature of environmentalist rhetoric. The End is Near. We're destroying the planet. Any minute now we're all going to die in fire and brimstone.

    If you spend years immersed in this sense of perpetual crisis and doomsday prophesying, you start really thinking that you have to destroy tests plots of vitamin-A fortified rice, because otherwise, THE WORLD IS GOING TO COME TO AN END.

  • SugarFree||

    Slate is reporting that the activists destroyed the fields and said the farmers did it to make it look like a populist uprising.

    Wow, what assholes.

  • Finrod||

    Have you ever known a hyper activist type that wasn't a giant asshole?

  • alittlesense||

    Don't read the comments on the NYT story. The only time I've ever seen such gobbledygook and fake "science" talk is when antivaccination people get together.
    There are comments nattering on about how eating Golden Rice will somehow awaken "dormant viral sequences" in our DNA, and, of course, the whole "Big -------" routine. Big Business, Big Pharma, Big Chemicals..... Is there a point where a business stops being "small" and hence absolutely trustworthy, and becomes "big" and instantly evil? Is it when you hire the 501st employee?

  • LynchPin1477||

    I think it is when they start asking their employees to shave and respect basic hygiene before coming into work. Or when they stop being Apple.

  • Finrod||

    It's when a business hires the 50th employee, according to Obamacare.

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