GMO Food

Anti-GMO Activist Campaign is "Full of Errors, Fallacies, Misconceptions, Misrepresentations, and Lies."

Terrific Slate article agrees with what Reason has been reporting for years now.


Killer Tomatoes

Better late than never, Slate is running a terrific article, "Unhealthy Fixation," denouncing the massive campaign of pseudoscientific disinformation and lies perpetrated by environmental and organic activists against genetically enhanced crops. Astute Reason readers will be well aware of the data and arguments made in the Slate article, such as, the lies activists tell about biotech safety; why mandatory GMO labeling is a bad idea; how anti-biotech activism kills and blinds kids; the mendacious campaign against GMOs in Hawaii; and the fact that organic crops are not healthier or better for the planet

The Slate article's subhed, however, sums up the arguments well:

The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.

Well, yes. In any case, Slate's Will Saletan reports:

I've spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here's what I've learned. First, it's true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It's full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They're counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

Second, the central argument of the anti-GMO movement—that prudence and caution are reasons to avoid genetically engineered, or GE, food—is a sham. Activists who tell you to play it safe around GMOs take no such care in evaluating the alternatives. They denounce proteins in GE crops as toxic, even as they defend drugs, pesticides, and non-GMO crops that are loaded with the same proteins. They portray genetic engineering as chaotic and unpredictable, even when studies indicate that other crop improvement methods, including those favored by the same activists, are more disruptive to plant genomes. …

… the fundamental flaw in the anti-GMO movement [is that] it only pretends to inform you. When you push past its dogmas and examine the evidence, you realize that the movement's fixation on genetic engineering has been an enormous mistake. The principles it claims to stand for—environmental protection, public health, community agriculture—are better served by considering the facts of each case than by treating GMOs, categorically, as a proxy for all that's wrong with the world. That's the truth, in all its messy complexity. Too bad it won't fit on a label. …

The relentless efforts of Luddites to block testing, regulatory approval, and commercial development of GMOs are major reasons why more advanced GE products, such as Golden Rice, are still unavailable. The best way to break the herbicide industry's grip on genetic engineering is to support the technology and push it forward, by telling policymakers, food manufacturers, and seed companies that you want better GMOs.

The whole article is well worth your attention.

Note: I will mention that readers who seek a more extensive treatment of these issues might want to take a look at my new book, The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century (St. Martin's Press, July 21). I have a chapter, "The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?" in which I report the data on biotech crops and debunk activist disinformation, and another "Never Do Anything for the First Time" in which I explain the powerful threat to innovation posed by the precautionary princple.

NEXT: Bernie Sanders and Gun Rights: More Than Just Electoral Expediency

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  1. WHEN will those hillbilly religious liberals stop ignoring the SCIENCE!

    1. Chipotle notes that 300 scientists have “signed a statement rejecting the claim that there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for human consumption.”

      So climate change skeptics assemble a list of scientists who share their thoughts on AGW, and it’s derided as token relative to the “97% consensus” touted in favor of climate change.

      300 actual science-deniers sign a paper, and suddenly there’s a major insurgency in the scientific community.

      1. Playa Manhattan notes that Chipotle sucks.

        1. Never been. Does it really leave blood stains?

          1. I don’t know, the only one I’ve ever seen shares a parking lot with an awesome sub shop. Why would I go to smug central when I’m just as close to DiBellas?

          2. It’s pretty overrated. Like an upscale, well… I really couldn’t tell you, since, living in New Mexico, I eat actual New Mexican cuisine.

            1. Frito pies?

              1. Damn you. We have enough problems with people lumping us in with tex-mex.

                1. I have a freezer full of NM chiles, so there’s my bona fides.

                  My wife (who was living in Santa Fe when we met) won’t eat Tex Mex but adores New Mexican. Reason is… cilantro. She claims that no NM food has what she refers to as “soapweed.”

                  1. I accidentally ate a roach once. It was in the bottom of my Mcdonalds ice-cream cone. It tasted exactly like cilantro.

                    That was 40 years ago. I still can’t eat cilantro. It is horrible stuff.

                  2. I like it in side dishes, beans or salsa especially, but it’s a bit overpowering.

                    1. I made garnachas yesterday. Beef simmered with garlic and an entire bunch of cilantro. Mmmmmmm.

                  3. Did you know that she was genetically defective when you married her?

                    1. Yes, I did, but… you know, oral.

                  4. Yeah, cilantro just tastes different to some people. my wife has the same problem, which is annoying since I quite like cilantro.

                2. Long Greens. Hatch Chiles. Sparky’s

                  1. Extra hot Big Jims.

          3. It’s not bad for what it is.

          4. I think it is quite good for what it is. But I live in an area without a lot of real taco places.

          1. He’s critiquing their food, not their purchasing policies. Like all food snobs he can be safely ignored.

            1. Not a food snob. I enjoy Dominos, just like you. My favorite hot dog is sold from a cart in the Home Depot parking lot, and I had McDonalds for breakfast this morning.

              Chipotle food is objectively terrible. But they pretend that it isn’t, and market it as such. In practice, they operate almost identically to a corporate cafeteria. The food is neither freshly prepared nor healthful. It sits in a steam tray for hours, possibly days, until it is sold. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but customers who think they’re having an authentic, fresh, Mexican meal are lying to themselves. For me, the GMO smugness is just the icing on the cake.

              1. Dominos? That grease-slab place that has plastic food?

              2. Chipotle food is objectively terrible.

                I don’t know how I could have mistaken you for a food snob. Please accept my apologies.

                1. I slipped that in there just for you. Initially, I had typed that it tastes like shit, but… that’s no fun.

              3. Chipotle food is objectively terrible.

                That’s not how food works.

              4. Chipotle is what I call “clean” food. Not “clean” in the dieting sense, but “clean” in the sense that you get all of 2 or 3 flavors, and they’re all from relatively flavorless vegetables. The tortillas suck, the cheese is flavorless, the guac is boring. There are no spices to note. It’s a very bland burrito, mostly filled by flavorless bagged lettuce and cold, flavorless meat.

                1. You know they have salsa, right?

                  1. Their salsa sucks.

                2. There is a lot to be said for clean food. If I’m not making something myself (and therefore able to pick and choose the subtler flavors), I prefer being served clean food. It’s good enough to be satisfying and, more importantly, I’m not subjected to something gag worthy that either the cook or general population considers yummy.

                  1. I prefer being served clean food. It’s good enough to be satisfying

                    That’s the thing, though. Chipotle is borderline good enough in my book. I hate their lettuce, and they tend to fill the burrito with a ton of it. The rest of the vegetables taste like they were chosen to look pretty rather than for flavor, and they overcook their meat so that the flavor cooks off.

                    Chipotle, to me, is the place I would go with my picky grandma who doesn’t really like anything but American cuisine. I’m never going to throw away Chipotle out of disgust, but I’m under no impression that the burrito is anywhere in the ballpark of “good.” If Chipotle got rid of the tortilla chips and guac, replacing them with tsaziki and hummus, they could pass as a decent wrap deli.

              5. The food is neither freshly prepared nor healthful. It sits in a steam tray for hours, possibly days, until it is sold.

                Also…I’ve never been to a Chipotle that did this little business.

                1. For reals. They usually have to restock at least one tray while I am in line.

              6. If you think Dominos is acceptable, but that Chipotle is terrible, I have to question your judgement. You live in a place where you can get proper cheap Mexican food, so I wouldn’t think you would ever eat there, but it’s a step up from most fast food. Unless it has gotten worse. I’ve only eaten there a few times.

                I honestly don’t know how the big chain pizza places can exist. They are all terrible and there are tons of small. local pizza places that are not terrible.

                1. I acknowledge that dominos isn’t “good”. But when I have 3 hungry, cranky kids who want dinner, I can order a 2 topping pizza for 5.99 online and have it show up at my door 20 minutes later. And I’ll happily eat whatever my kids don’t.

                  When I’m alone and in the mood for Brooklyn style, I have a special place that I go where I’ll pay 4 bucks a slice. Not with the kids, though.

          2. That’s a start. I’m trying to build a scientific consensus.

            1. This scientist agrees- they suck and they’re not cheap.

              I miss Freebirds. That was the best part of living in Texas.

              1. I’m going there for lunch.

                In your fucking face, old man!

                1. You’ll show him!!!!
                  And then what are you going to eat for actual lunch?

              2. Freebirds in Isla Vista introduced me to what a glorious condiment bbq sauce is in a burrito. Forever grateful.

        2. The Chipotle at Seventh and Grand is a frequent hangout for LA County Sheriffs. Of course it sucks.

          1. They’re “Post Certified”
            Cops eat free.

      2. Interesting, I haven’t seen that petition circulated at any technical conferences…

  2. I find it difficult to believe the state of nutrition science is so flimsy. Next you’ll tell me dietitians were wrong about cholesterol all along, and the anti-fat crusade has been nothing but food fadism.

    1. I find it difficult to believe the state of nutrition science is so flimsy.

      What’s flimsy about “Eat a variety of foods, in moderation”?

      1. The fact that “a variety of foods” for years circumscribed red meats and eggs.

    2. And salt can be taken at any rate you can tolerate without serious health problems.

  3. Bill Nye the ‘Science’ Guy is GMO hater by ideological disposition; but deep-down knows better. The contest in his silly brain played out by his silly face and statements is fun to watch when he’s asked about the subject.

    1. Bill Nye deserves credit for changing his position on that in the face of the evidence. I still think he’s a smug asshole who is consistently wrong about politics, but good for him.

      1. It makes me so sad to see him become an agitprop for the left. I loved, LOVED, his show growing up.

        1. Yeah, disappointing. Same thing with the Bad Astronomer, who went completely coo-coo about politics.

        2. Beakman’s World was better.

          1. I looked him up. Still doing Beakman appearances all these years later. Guess a puppeteer as less credibility as a scientist than a former engineer? Otherwise, why isn’t he THE VOICE OF SCIENCE?

            1. Because proggies are loud and stupid, and have elevated someone who agrees with everything they say to “The Voice of Science?”

            2. Dr. Science is THE VOICE OF SCIENCE, unfortunately.

          2. Thanks for reminding me about Beakman. Need to get that and science court for my son.

        3. Bullshit.

          His show was that boring thing I had to wait to finish before “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” came on.

          1. Come on, it was well done. Kids still like it.

            1. No. You see, Sudden’s preferences are the correct ones. All of those kids are suffering from false consciousness.

  4. Slate was accused of shilling for Monsanto in that article (because of course), which led to this incredible twitter exchange.

    1. Yes, that is pretty good.

    2. It’s what we need every time some troll screams “YOU’RE JUST SHILLS FOR BIG KOCH!!!”

      1. Someone should create a “@Checkwriter4Kochs” twitter and do these on a daily basis.

  5. Blah blah blah right-wing facts. Listen, you take your corporate, shill b.s. elsewhere, Bailey. I read on the internet that gmo’s cause autism and cancer and erectile dysfunction, and that is the truth!

    1. It isn’t GMOs alone. It’s GMOs combined with vaccines. The plan is like the Joker’s from the first Tim Burton film.

      1. “Well ship ’em all! We’re gonna take ’em out a whole new door!”

      2. Where do the chemtrails fit in?

        1. Act III, Scene 2

          1. Is that when Mr. Lizard shows up too?

            1. His scaliness doesn’t show up until Act III, Scene 3. You know… the one where global warming sets in.

        2. Where do the chemtrails fit in?


    2. One time I categorized all of the invective spewed about glyphosate and GMOs in just one single thread on a gardening page I used to frequent. The accusations were so varied that it was just a wall of text. Everything from fucking up hormones to cancer to poisoning the water to autism and on and on.

      I capped it off by saying that it looks like RoundUp is more effective than VX nerve agent. I’m surprised the military doesn’t use it!

      1. What makes you think they aren’t? I’m sure Sheldon is concerned.

  6. The sincere anti-GMO types need to read more than Mary Shelley.

  7. Good grief, how many book-peddling hucksters does reason employ?

    Didn’t Root write a book recently? I think I heard Walker wrote one once. And I could swear there was some hullabaloo about Welch and Gillespie putting something out there.

    1. Authors write books; That’s what we do. (Apologies to Geico.)

      1. Pfft, “author,” right.

        *winks; gives Bailey a pat on the shoulder*

        In all seriousness, I might just have to pick up your book.

        1. He’s published, so he gets to use that label.

      2. Books, pamphlets, articles, fliers, anything our pen can reach, really.

      3. “We”? You consider yourself an author now?

        What is this world coming to?

        Listen Ron, occasionally jotting things down for some third-rate “news” site doesn’t make you an author.

      4. Why do you need to shill books when you’re already shilling for Monsanto?


        1. The Monsanto check didn’t clear

    2. I wonder if I wrote a book detailing my various sexual dysfunctions, would Reason allow me to contribute an article incidentally relating to it?

      1. Nobody wants to read about your affinity for stuffing pickles in your ass.

        …then again, you might get some rave reviews here.

        1. If he can work in Nancy Pelosi somehow, it’ll get universal acclaim.

          1. She’s larger than most of the foreign objects he’s managed to finagle in there, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

  8. Slate runs a decent article AND Bernie Sanders is right about something? Today is so weird.

    1. Word! Strange days indeed

  9. Oh my God, Tony said the following in an article on criminal justice reform and it’s amazingly reasonable:

    “Tony|7.16.15 @ 12:03PM|#

    To everyone’s apparent surprise, this issue is coming from bipartisan support. Democrats are on the human rights angle and Republicans are on the cost angle, but who cares as long as reform happens. I’m personally giving credit where it’s due, and the first reforms happened in red states like Texas and Georgia.”

    I can’t…this is…it’s like watching Hitler save a drowning puppy.

    1. This is why I don’t think Tony is a troll or sockpuppet. Trolls and sockpuppets exist just to piss others off. They wouldn’t say something like that.

      Tony’s still an asshole. But he’s real.

      1. I’ll agree that Tony’s a real asshole.

      2. He’s an economic ignoramus, would leave billions starving in the streets while singing paeans to the social equality hunger produces, has no compunction with leveling humans or businesses or industries in pursuit of his goals, and takes umbrage with outlandish libertarian notions like our opposition to prior restraint in all things. He has no moral standing, and yet squawks up at us from his crumbling foundation about the moral superiority of obedience and supplication. Tony is a ghoul. But he’s utterly sincere.

        1. Reason editors, I nominate this comment to be quoted in the print edition.

      3. I get this impression too. For one thing, he isn’t as consistent and dedicated as the more obvious trolls.

    2. Hitler loved puppies. In fact, he was killing off all the Jews to make room for more puppies.

      True Story.

      1. But only racially pure German Shepard puppies.

        1. I see you’ve heard of the hundchenmacht.

        2. Sooooo at what point are they no longer “puppies” and what happens to them then?

          1. Well, normally, they become adult dogs. It’s in all the biology books.

          2. Well, when they’re old enough to breed, the good ones are used to create more puppies, the rest are turned into Korean food.

            1. Ve hav kamps for processing zuch hunds.

            2. They’ve already got the ovens fired up.

    3. He’s been having these remarkable human moments. It’s frankly awesome and I’m nurturing this tiny naif spark of hope that it keeps happening. He was in the last transgender thread, and turned in a performance worthy of applause. Sensible, sane, charitable and libertarian.

      Theory: Since everyone else has been cranky douchebags, this is indicative of a zero-sum function to the universe.

      1. He must’ve finally gotten laid recently.

    4. I can’t…this is…it’s like watching Hitler save a drowning puppy.

      That’s the second worst thing I’ve heard all day.

      1. What was the worst?

    5. Tony is like Sanders. He is not unprincipled, he just has his approach all wrong. Terribly wrong.

      On several occasions he has expressed befuddlement about outcomes that we all agree are awful. he just couldn’t see that those outcomes were the result of the policies he advocates for.

      Proggies like Tony don’t have the ability to make certain fine distinctions, to understand subtle concepts. In other words, they are stupid.

  10. I give it an hour or so before a luddite finds this article on some search and comes here to ‘explain’ the same lies we’ve heard over and over again.
    But this time there’s “evidence” that people die and it’s ’cause GMOs! Has to be!

    1. Nah, they didn’t even have to leave home this time around. They’re still at Slate setting the record straight like a chattering bunch of shit-flinging chimps.

      1. See below:

        the5chord|7.16.15 @ 1:58PM|#
        gmo`s increase pesticide use?…

        1. not a luddite. not opposed to gmo. was interested in the claim. I see it’s somewhat answered in section five of the saletan piece. Taleb is losing his mind over the article on twitter.

  11. Moe’s and Freebirds both beat Chipolte badly. Freebirds is the one that needs to expand. I miss that place.

    1. I name checked Freebirds above. Oh man, I miss the place. Everyone who worked there had numerous piercing and sleeves.

      1. I think that’s the first other mention I’ve seen on this place. Few people seem to know it.

        1. I mentioned it the other day in the last Chipotle thread. Freebirds is good stuff.

    2. There’s a place in CO called Illegal Pete’s that’s on par with Freebird’s. That said, Chipotle’s guacamole is really really good for some reason.

      1. That said, Chipotle’s guacamole is really really good for some reason.

        It’s unoffensive, but to me it’s rather flavorless.

        1. That said, Chipotle’s guacamole is really really good for some reason.

          It’s unoffensive, but to me it’s rather flavorless.

          There’s the key, by getting rid of the avacado flavor, they might have discovered a semi-edible form of guacamole.

          1. What is wrong with you?

            1. Besides being a bureaucrat?

        2. I do find the guac at Chipotle’s offensive. $1.95 for a dollop in my burrito? Seriously?

  12. “Attaaaaaaaack of the killer tomatoes!
    Attaaaaaaaack of the killer tomatoes!

    They’ll beat you, bash you, squish you, mash you,
    Chew you up for brunch and finish you off for dinner or lunch!
    They’re marching down the halls,
    They’re crawling up the walls,
    They’re gooey, gushy, squishy, mushy,
    Rotten to the core,
    They’re standing outside your door!”

    Now it will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.

    1. I remember watching the show as a kid, but not much about it.

      However, long before that, I overheard a conversation my folks were having about tornadoes. I had no idea what a tornado was, and thought they meant tomatoes. As a result I had a very confusing idea about destructive cyclonic tomatoes.

    2. I remember turning that show off and going outside to play. Even as a kid I had my limits.

  13. On the GMO’s, I don’t just want to see evidence there’s a carcinogen in one type or something. I want to see evidence that it’s a higher risk than many foods on the market, and know about consumption rates in the studies.

    You can kill yourself if you drink too much water. People kill themselves with booze, not to mention cigarettes. Red meat has been linked more to cancer than any GMO I’m aware of, but I guess the greenies want to ban that, too. The whole diet soda = cancer nonsense mentioned yesterday. Eating shit tons of sugar, processed carbs and increased risk of diabetes.

    Meaning, damn near everything can kill you in certain quantities and/or over a period of time. People decide things are an acceptable risk every day.

    What the true die hard environmentalists hate is that despite their predictions on decreasing crop yields and rising food prices, GMO’s and other innovations keep squeezing more out of it. Our agricultural system is sustainable.

    1. The truth is that evolution ‘designs’ organisms to live long enough to reproduce. After that, fuck you.

      People are not designed to live longer than about 30 years old. After that all sorts of things start malfunctioning.

      1. As someone who turns 32 next week, I…can’t disagree with this.

      2. Google “menopause human age” and revel in the contradiction between your two statements.

      3. The truth is that evolution ‘designs’ organisms to live long enough to reproduce enough offspring to grow species, accounting for replacing you and the mortality rate pre-reproductive age. After that, fuck you.


  14. In other “anti-” big food news – organic not working-out so well……..4ug==&p2;=

    1. The left’s sacred environmental and social causes often contradict. I’d care more if they weren’t ranting about carbon emissions and focused on things that matter like bringing prices down/crop yields.

  15. Slate is running a terrific article, “Unhealthy Fixation,” denouncing the massive campaign of pseudoscientific disinformation and lies perpetrated by environmental and organic activists against genetically enhanced crops.

    If you don’t mind, i will reserve my optimism for a new and exiting future for that moment when Slate runs a terrific article denouncing the massive campaign of pseudoscientific disinformation and lies (which you and I call “Climate Change“) perpetrated by environmental activists against Western capitalist societies and Capitalism in general.

    1. Ditto.

    2. I’m listening to a Teaching Company course on human prehistory, and the huge fluctuations in climate during the existence of humans–heck, just during the existence of Homo sapiens–are really incredible. During our short tenure on Earth, we’ve seen huge swaths of land disappear under water, and we’ve endured long droughts, glaciation, etc. It’s really hard to listen to that and not wonder how the heck we can claim any true knowledge of all of the mechanisms that contribute to an apparently ever-fluctuating climate. It’s also clear that we do much better when the planet is warmer–if we knew glaciation was coming in fifty years, we’d probably try to intentionally warm the planet.

      One crazy thing I heard was that millions and millions of gallons of water got released from Canadian glaciers during a general warming trend, which ended up screwing up ocean currents and plunging at least Europe right back into a severe ice age. So warming can mean cooling.

      1. Eh, might do Europe some good.

      2. This is why the world must be held in stasis. It’s for the children. Nevermind that the species has struggked to survive during mere cooling spelss and thrived in warmer times. Nevermind that we thrive the more we can decouple from our environment, e.g refrigeration, heating, and lighting. The goddess must be obeyed and humanity must be punished for it’s sins.

      3. In what ways do humans do better when it is warmer?

        Obviously there are advantages to warmer climate. But some climatic hardship seems to be good for development of technology and efficient social structures. I think that is a big part of the reason why Europeans have been so successful and why most places in hot climates are less developed and screwed up to some degree.
        Having to prepare for winter seems like an important part of developing an advanced, modern civilization.

        I’m not necessarily saying that a slightly warmer climate would be bad for people or cause some regression. But I don’t think European civilization could have developed as it did without cold weather.

        1. Food, Zeb. It’s actually a huge deal. If we had one of those abrupt moves to glaciation, the massive agricultural producers of quite a bit of the world would see yields reduced to a fraction of what they are now. While the advanced nations might compensate with more hydroponics and other alternatives, that’s not going to make up for all of the land lost to growing. Cold can also mean more severe droughts.

          It’s not about getting chilly, though that has some consequences, too.

          1. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we need more cold or anything. Or that cold doesn’t make it more difficult for people to be comfortable and well fed. Just speculating at the reasons why different parts of the world developed in such different ways. There is some reason why Europeans became such a dominant force in the world and I think climate must have had something to do with it. Hardship makes life tough for individuals, but it also spurs innovation and biological evolution.

            1. It’s our Neanderthal genes. We’ve got about 4% Neanderthal, most others are around 2%.

              1. I think you just don’t like the idea because you are from a warm place. As a thrifty and hard working New Englander, i think it is a fine theory.

                1. Of course, where we are now is totally irrelevant to your hypothesis. I’m almost completely of Northern European stock.

              2. Neanderthals were a branch of humanity that evolved for cold climates. So that supports my theory too.

                1. They weren’t just in the cold areas. The were in the Near East, too.

                  1. And modern humans are more adapted to warm climates, yet live in cold places. And the near east gets cold and got even colder during the last glacial period. I think it is pretty well accepted that Neanderthals did, in fact, evolve in colder climates than modern humans.

                    1. Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Which came first, the cold or the Neanderthal? They arose in some warmer areas, too.

                    2. The Neanderthals caused the cooling, somehow. Obviously we must bring them back to fight global warming.

                    3. Ooh, I like this. They’ve been gone for a relatively short time, and most of us carry some of their DNA, so we might be able to bring them back.

                    4. What if they all turn out to be total douchebags, though? I don’t need yet another subspecies of hominid trying to get me to do Crossfit with them.

        2. Re: Zeb,

          In what ways do humans do better when it is warmer?

          You use less fuel.

          But some climatic hardship seems to be good for development of technology and efficient social structures.

          Ah, the ‘Broken Window Fallacy” raises its head again!

          I think that is a big part of the reason why Europeans have been so successful and why most places in hot climates are less developed and screwed up to some degree.

          Unless we look at China… Most of the stuff the Europeans enjoyed came from China.

          Having to prepare for winter seems like an important part of developing an advanced, modern civilization.

          Actually, it only means you have to spend an awful lot of time preparing for winter. That doesn’t leave you enough time to build a civilization ? you know, time to read or even write books

          I hope you’re not forgetting the very important economic concept of Opportunity Costs.

          1. Well, there is some reason why Europeans have done so well. It’s not an argument for what kind of climate would be best in the future, nor that cold weather makes people happy and well fed. But I still say that having to plan ahead for winters must have had something to do with how Europe developed and how most places with hot climates failed to develop in similar ways.

            Actually, it only means you have to spend an awful lot of time preparing for winter. That doesn’t leave you enough time to build a civilization ? you know, time to read or even write books…

            I think that the experience of Europe shows that to be false.

            I’m not certain I’m right, but I think you dismiss it too quickly.

            1. Re: Zeb,

              Well, there is some reason why Europeans have done so well.

              Possibly, but winter is not going to be one of those reasons. I haven’t seen the rise of the Great Eskimo Civilization that can prove your point, so…
              But I do see the awesome remnants of a prosperous and long-surviving civilization which flourished right in the middle of the desert, alongside a great river. Maybe the reason we don’t have spacecraft hundreds of years ago is because the Egyptians did not have snow. Who knows?

              1. I still say you rule it out too quickly. Cold winters is just one of many factors.

                Egypt could be seen to support my premise that climatic hardship helps spur civilization. They didn’t have cold winters, but they did have the seasonal floods of the Nile, which made it necessary to prepare for the dry seasons which required technology, planning and complex social organization.

                1. Re: Zeb,

                  I still say you rule it out too quickly. Cold winters is just one of many factors.

                  I dismiss the notion quickly because I understand Opportunity Costs. The fact is that places with better growing seasons also supported much greater civilizations that anything the Europeans could ever dream.

                  One big reason Europeans were able to dominate other parts of the world was because commerce brought in innovative technologies and knowledge from other places into a society hungry for those things. Another reason was competition: the continent was so fragmented, there wasn’t an all-powerful State that pigeon-holed people. But that does not mean people became more ingenious because they had to warm themselves in the winter.

                  1. One big reason Europeans were able to dominate other parts of the world was because commerce brought in innovative technologies and knowledge from other places into a society hungry for those things.

                    That may well be, but why were they hungry for those things? I would say that it had something to do with the lousy climate they were stuck with, the nasty winters they had to endure, etc.

                    You understand opportunity costs, that’s great. But you are ignoring many other things. It seems pretty clear that hardship helps spur innovation and development. It doesn’t have to be cold, but there has to be something. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

            2. I suspect that Europe just had the right blend of technology, culture, trade, and resources to become successful, and everything since follows from that one moment of superiority. It’s not like Europe has been the most advanced culture on Earth for very long.

          2. There is a level of hardship where we lose innovation because all excess energy is spent on survival, but some minimum threshold of hardship needs to exist to not only cause innovation but to cause its wide spread adoption.

            Remember also that science builds on itself, something invented for one purpose might have pieces or whole concepts of it applied to completely different problems. It’s much easier and quicker to come up with new solutions when surround with ideas from the past.

            1. Yes, that is what i am trying to say. An ice age, or even any significant cooling short of that would be terrible for people today. But we didn’t get to where we are by being comfortable and well fed all the time. Having to use your resources and energy carefully is how you learn how to use them efficiently.

              1. I don’t think prehistoric humanity ever had it easy, wherever they were located. The megafauna, for instance, which could supply a whole lot of food and other material with one kill (or one happen-on-a-corpse), started dying off when the ice began receding. And even warmer conditions can have bad moments (that last years, sometimes) like droughts.

        3. We’re past the point of having to struggle to survive winter, so we no longer reap the benefits.

          1. It builds character.

        4. In what ways do humans do better when it is warmer?

          Isn’t it obvious? Summer’s the best time of year. Who can go swimming when it’s cold? Plus you can go naked & activate the vit D. (+ skin CA, unfortunately.) Baseball in winter? I don’t think so. Anything you can do outdoors (except the skidding they misspell as “skiing” & “skating”) you can do more comfortably when it’s hot. & who wants to be cooped up inside?

          Are you asking a trick Q?

  16. gmo`s increase pesticide use?…

    1. That’s complete bullshit.

    2. ” a shocking new report released by the Center for Food Safety (CFS).”
      They misspelled “propaganda” as “new report”. Bad mistake; someone could be mislead by that pile of shit.

  17. I really don’t get the left. They drone on and on about the environment and poverty, yet are opposed to any technological advance that might actually do something to improve the situation. We’ve seen it with nuclear, fracking, GMOs, oil sands, clean coal.

    It’s almost as if they don’t actually care about these issues and just want an excuse to control everyone’s behavior….

    1. Re: Woodchip-o-Matic 5000

      They drone on and on about the environment and poverty, yet are opposed to any technological advance that might actually do something to improve the situation.

      There are two times of environmentalists, W.

      a) The “true believer”, the religious nut who thinks Earth should be restored to the way it used to be without human interaction, by severely reducing the population and practicing personal asceticism. They’re creepy as they’re crazy.

      b) The “Watermelon”, Marxians who bamboozled the environmentalists into thinking that Socialism (or Marxianism) is the path to achieve their goals but when the revolution comes, the true believers will be the first to be against the wall because, like Sauron, Marxians do not like to share power. In that Camp you have the Tony’s of the world.

      The Marxians slyly take advantage of the efforts by the environmentalists to impose controls on people’s behavior, like product restrictions and recycling programs and such, because those things increase the size and scope of the State. By building such an apparatus, the jump into full-blown Communism can be achieved where violent revolutions have failed. But, again, the true believers are being used and, like sheep, will be the first to enter the slaughterhouse. Poor saps,

      1. “types”, not “times”.

      2. I think there are five types of environmentalists, including your two types.

        a) “true believer/tree hugger” – The crazies you described. These are the “eco-terrorists” of the 90s.

        b) “Watermelon” – authoritarian opportunists who never saw a cause that didn’t promote more regulation. Al Gore is the archetypical watermelon.

        c) “Emotional followers” – those who constantly fall for the latest environmental fad. They just want happy trees to thrive and scary smokestacks to go away. These are the people who listen to NPR and get preachy on facebook about something being “unsustainable.”

        d) “Anti-Industrialists” – these are a less potent version of a) with a heaping helping of b), but they are unique in that they won’t support anything that allows industry to exist. The Anti-Industrialist would never support nuclear. Tree huggers won’t let you put a water wheel in the river, but the Anti-Industrialist gets agrarian warm fuzzies from the prospect. This is your standard anti-nuclear activist. You also see them protest the G20 summits.

        e) “Naturalists” – these are a mix of a) and c) while being led around on a leash by b). Naturalists believe that natural is better than artificial 100 times out of 100, but they don’t care about industrialization as much. They just emotionally jump from issue to issue shouting “poison” and “toxin” because things are made in a “processed” manner. These are the people freaking out about GMOs and RoundUp and the bees all dying.

        1. I think there is another, more sensible kind too. But probably better to call them conservationists or something like that because “environmentalist” is ruined by the people you describe.

          1. yes, I intentionally left conservationists off precisely because environmentalist has been ruined.

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  19. Check out the Twitter war between Nassim Taleb and Will Saletan. I have read all of Taleb’s books. When did the guy turn crazy asshole?

    1. Link please?

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