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Industry Influence Clouds New GMO Report


#1

Industry Influence Clouds New GMO Report

Tim Schwab

Last month, Food & Water Watch correctly predicted that the National Research Council’s (NRC) far-reaching ties to the biotechnology industry would greatly weaken the organization’s forthcoming report on genetically modified (GMO) foods and crops.


#3

Being "against GMOs" because they are functionally, in the capitalist political economy, used as tools for corporate control of life, food, and humanity, is simply rational.


#4

Yes, the corporations and politicians they own prevent the "rational" discussion of how to regulate GMOs in a fashion where objective research determines appropriate legislation. the corporations refuse to engage in any objective assessment, leaving the rest of us no option other than to consider all GMOs hazards to human health and the environment until proven otherwise. The NRC report does not prove otherwise.

While I will fight to the end against uncontained GMO fish, pesticide ready seeds. and other issues where anybody not locked in closet for the past decade can easily connect the dots, I agree that some GMOs may provide desirable characteristics while not being hazardous to health and the environment.


#5

This is where Dana Carvey's Church Lady mutters, "How convenient!"

“The most detailed epidemiological study that tested for a relationship between cancer and glyphosate [an herbicide widely used with GMOs] as well as other agricultural chemicals found ‘no consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate.’”

"NRC doesn’t note that the study referenced here was funded by Monsanto. A few pages later, NRC cites Monsanto-funded studies five times in one passage (again without disclosure) to arrive at the determination that glyphosate is not linked to cancer in farmworkers."


#6

Ridiculous con-job.

Mother Nature is the author of the doctrines of life. Over eons, in her laboratories of Nature she determined which genes to mix and match. Then, based on a measure of luck added to "Survival of the Fittest," the dominant genes went on to reproduce.

But when arrogant men (like you) who have a few years of science training put on a lab coat and determine to mix and match species that are NOT compatible, like fish genes merged with potatoes, or pigs with tomatoes, THAT is a violation of the Life Code.

Just as Big Oil drills down and unleashes oil that can never go back into its safe reservoir, or Frackers unleash tons of methane that they can't contain; those fools playing fast and loose with DNA's Life Codes cannot fix what they break.

And there's a good bet that the Microcephaly outbreak in Brazil that's being conveniently blamed on the Zika Mosquito (whilst there's no similar outbreak of that disorder anywhere in the world... where this mosquito is found) is really another genetic modification experiment gone awry.

How many times does Big Pharma push a drug until thousands of people are harmed; and then, it takes that drug off the market?

How many times have corporations LIED about the purported safety of their products (the Tobacco trials where so many lied under oath about the known addictive qualities of nicotine, come to mind) only to have them also later recalled?

Genetically engineered organisms are new to the human diet and that means there is not yet a track record of toxicity and harm. But there will be.

You're basically shilling for Monsanto, a company that is guilty of war crimes, and a company that is directly responsible for the suicide of thousands of farmers in India.

Nice work.


#7

You are completely wrong that GMO seeds are being used for "corporate control of life".
That is a pure con job, and you are the victim!. The biotech companies compete with each other to earn the farmer's dollar. If they don't produce seeds that work, they don't make the sale. Farmers decide which seeds to use - GMO or other hybrids. The company makes money selling either. I suggest you quit listening to, and believing people who are not the farmers buying the seed. You need to go work as a manager in a large company, and learn first-hand what drives corporate direction and decision making. If you are actually worried about corporate control of life and food, look no further than the companies that are using all that false nonsense to convince you to buy their overpriced products - and those are certain food retailers and producers that are trying to scare you into buying their products. Would you buy a car from a company that advertised their product by telling you how bad every other car was? Would you believe their claims?


#8

Your boilerplate apology for corporate control of life and agriculture adds zero to any intelligent understanding of the purposes and consequences of genetic engineering under the distorted "legal" paradigm of patenting life.

It also thoroughly elides the fact that this paradigm is accelerating the dis-integration of the Earth's ecology.

You are predictably delusional in your fealty to the constructs of "free" market, libertarian capitalism.


#9

You need to quit showing everyone how little you know about biology and plant development.
Almost all of the food you eat, including wheat, has been extensively modified by plant scientists - and has been for as much as 80 years.
Before the current technology, thousands of plants were developed by a different genetic modification technology - called radiational mutagenesis.
Instead of the plant developers knowing what gene(s) they were modifying, they just subjected thousands of growing plants to very high doses of radioactivity. This would make many changes in the genes of the plant. The seeds from the plant then had all kinds of artificially-induced genetic modifications. Some of the seeds would grow, some would not. Once in a long while the plant breeder would get lucky and find that a seed grew into a plant that pretty much looked like the parent plant that got treated with radioactivity, but the new plant showed some traits that the developers thought would make a better commercial plant. Those plants they kept the seeds from, and through additional cross-breedings over several years produced plants that performed better.
That method of random, deliberate, genetic modification is still used today is special circumstances, but as we learn more and more about how to produce specific traits, it is so much easier to use modern genetic modification techniques.
So - even though there is no "GMO" wheat grown commercially, the wheat that we use today was produced by deliberate, artificial genetic modification. This is true for many crops in use today.
There is at least one case of plant having been produced by even more radical methods of genetic modification that have been used to cross two plants that are so genetically different that they will not naturally cross-pollinate. If I remember the paper correctly, it took a plant scientist almost 40 years to make the technique work.
You said "GMOs are new to the human diet" - FALSE. If you pick up two ears of corn in the store, for example, and do a full DNA sequence on each, you may find that those two seemingly identical ears of corn differ by hundreds of genes. In fact, genetic modification is the normal state of affairs in nature. Random mutations - genetic modifications - occur nearly every time a new cell is formed in a plant or animal or you. If this did not happen, there would be no different species of plants and animals, because whatever was the first "gene" would have never changed. Lucky for us, reactive environmental chemicals, like oxygen, and radiation from the sun and outer space, cause DNA to break apart. Most viruses that infect you or plants or animals modify DNA. So do a few bacteria, When that happens, enzymes in the cell attempt to repair the break, but often the repair is not done correctly. When that happens often enough inside you, you develop cancer.
So nature has been using genetic engineering for possibly several billion years - and it has not always been to mix and match for the better; look at all the species that have gone extinct. Those species were "experiments" that ultimately failed.
Don't be so quick to say that genetic engineering is all bad, that we don't know what we are doing. Millions of insulin-dependent diabetics are alive today because of genetically engineered bacteria. President Jimmy Carter, and an increasing number of other people are still alive today because of genetic engineering of human cells. There are many, many medical treatments now being developed that are based on genetically modifying a patient's own cells. Some 20% of the world potato crop is destroyed by a disease to which a newly approved genetically modified potato is resistant. The scientists that first developed Bt plants and herbicide resistant plants knew exactly what they were doing, and how to do it. Today, almost every biological research project involves genetically modifying some plant, animal, bacteria, yeast, or virus. Genetic engineering is a routine, standard laboratory process that is done in tens of thousands of labs in every country in the world that has a research university or corporate research lab devoted to biology. Genetic engineering is used because it provides predictable, measurable outcomes reliably, on any species.
The blunt fact is that everything has been genetically modified compared to it's parents and ancestors. If a section of DNA has a change, it has a change, regardless of which of many methods got the change put there. Whether the gene is changed by a lab technician inducing breaks in DNA at two particular places, or it is changed by a virus or bacterium inserting a DNA sequence at the same point, the outcome is identical.
The people who originally started the anti-GMO campaign were woefully ignorant about biology, but their ignorant words spread among many other equally uneducated people who chose to live their lives and base their attitudes on fiction instead of fact. Instead of hanging on to a simplistic, naive view of "nature", go to school and actually learn about the world around you. It is an amazing, incredible world. Millions of years of genetic modifications gave you a brain capable of understanding the world around you. Even though no one is likely to ever understand it all, life is so much more fun when you challenge yourself to learn - really learn - how things work. And, once you truly begin to understand biology, you will begin to understand why "GMOs" are no big deal.


#10

Again, your boilerplate corporate apology adds zero.

You are plainly ignorant about ecology. It's also transparent that you cannot allow your ideological blinders down for a moment.

You might challenge yourself to actually learn about the world around you, but with your submission to ideology over reality, i have little hope for your development.


#11

AndrewBoston, right on!
The attempts to tie the NRC report to "influence" is, I guess, a last - straw effort on the part of the anti-science movement. They can't deny the amazing advancements in health care that have come about only because of genetic engineering. They can't deny that farmers around the world, when given access to GMO crops, often choose to plant those crops. They can't deny that 90% of all cheese is produced from products of GMOs. They can't deny that millions of insulin-dependent diabetics are alive today because of the supply of human insulin produced by bacteria that have been modified by the insertion of human genes into them.
So, they try to claim "conflict of interest", while relying on "studies" like the one mentioned in the article about a lack of scientific consensus. That " review" cites all the same discredited, scientifically non-sense papers that the anti-GMO crowd has been pointing to for years. So far, some 270 independent, non-profit, scientific organizations, with a combined world-wide membership of probably 500,000 Ph.D. scientists, have made public statements declaring the safety of GMO crops and other organisms. The largest and most well - recognized organizations have produced position papers affirming the safety of GMOs and the urgent need to pursue the science and technology further for the benefit of people everywhere. That is public knowledge. As someone who works in a research lab that studies healthcare, I can tell you that no one involved in basic biomedical research - these are the people who would be the first to identify any health problem associated with GMO food - points to GMO food as a possible health risk. And, I assure you, these research scientists are quite competitive - they are always trying to make the next big discovery. If someone could show that some GMO caused harm - ever - and could show how that harm was caused, it would be a major discovery. However, at this point our knowledge of biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology is sufficiently well supported that it is safe to say that no such discovery will be make, simply because of some particular DNA/RNA/protein combination in food could cause harm, it would have already happened long ago. (That does happen in some insects, which is the basis of Bt crops).
So, the claim that there is no "scientific consensus" on GMO safety is complete fabrication. The molecular biologists are the scientists who have the training and knowledge to make that judgement, and they are pretty much in complete agreement. I know that because I interact with them all the time, and I am a member of some of the scientific societies to which many molecular biologists belong.
Furthermore, Food and Water Watch is trying to create controversy and conspiracy theory where none exists. Yes, molecular biologists and other scientists involved in the NRC report agree that GMOs are safe and beneficial. But anyone who believes that those scientists, who have reached a very high level of scientific respect within their profession and within the scientific community at large, would make a statement that was scientifically false is just completely ignorant of how the scientific community operates. One, companies want to have accurate scientific information - not just information that supports their products. You cannot build products based on fiction - such things do not work and do not sell. For another, scientists' jobs, access to prominent appointments, and their careers depend on their consistently being scientifically correct. They devoted 10 to 15 years of their life to low-paid "apprentice" type positions, at a time in their life when many people with less schooling are pulling down 6-figure incomes. They have struggled though the academic tenure system - another 5 to 7 years of being "in limbo". In other words, to be scientists who are asked to help provide the best possible input for public policy, you have to do many things right, and nothing wrong. If one of those scientists on the NRC took a position that was contrary to generally accepted scientific knowledge, and it was found that they took that position because of some corporate sponsorship, they would rather quickly loose their funding, and suffer other negative consequences. (This happened recently in a well-publicized case in Italy, where a professor at a university published a paper that claimed that GMOs were harmful - it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that he had fabricated the "data" he published. He is now severely restricted in what scientific work he can do, as data fabrication is about the worst thing you can do as a scientist).
I have sat in many, many meetings with research scientists, and one thing is very clear - they are not going to say something just to satisfy some sponsor. Even those who are doing pharmaceutical research, which is potentially far more rewarding financially than crop research, pursue the science, hopeful that someday they will make that big discovery that will open the door to more discoveries and new medical treatments. Sure, they keep "big pharma" informed of potentially promising discoveries (sometimes), but they always pursue the science, and the companies follow along - not the other way around. They certainly do not pursue some work just because some company wants it done - they will only pursue research that shows some promise of uncovering some previously unknown science.
The groups like Food and Water Watch are clearly completely ignorant (of choose to tell deliberate lies) about how science is done and how scientists make a living. To claim that people who devote their lives to increasing our knowledge about the world, and to improving the lives of all of us, are simply paid "shills" is inexcusable. They don't deserve any support from anyone, and they need to consistent in their beliefs and refuse all medical treatment on the basis that it is just a corporate money grab. Food and Water Watch should be contributing money to organizations that support research, rather than claiming that scientists can't be trusted.


#12

The six, soon to three, dominant GMO producing company all have cooperative agreements, there is no 'market' competition, the existing arrangement is a classic Gilded Age style trust. There are four international companies that process nearly all of the commodity grains in the world. The multinational ABCD companies, ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Dreyfus, dictate prices through their market control---they determine the demand.
Roy, you're a transparent PR hack.


#13

I am not apologizing for anything. Nor am I ignorant about "ecology". Over the last 300 or so years, many hundreds of truly invasive, environment-changing species have been introduced into the North American land scape.
Some years ago Scientific American raised the question of the possible threat of invasive GMO plants, and cited the ubiquitous presence of volunteer GMO canola plants across North Dakota, far from any canola fields. But finding a plant that has germinated far from any field does not mean it is invasive, it just means a seed got really lucky.
The genetics of GMO plants tells us at a very fundamental level that inserting or removing a specific trait in a plant is not going to make it invasive.
At least 160 species of plants and animals have been introduced into North America in the last 600 years since the landing of Europeans on American soil. Some of these plants and animals have made America what it is today, while many are obscure species with no obvious impact on our land. There have probably been many more species introduced to North America during that time that have not been identified as “imported”, because many species have not been extensively studied.
There are reasons why a few introduced species, such as tumbleweed, Johnson grass, kudzu, and hydrilla are familiar weeds to people in many areas of the country, while many other introduced species are rarely found anywhere. Tumbleweeds are the iconic yet unwanted symbol of the American West. Johnson grass is public enemy #1 of most suburban dwellers across much of the southern United States and is at the same time is widely used for forage and hay for livestock. Hydrilla is an extremely invasive water plant that is choking Florida’s waterways. Eucalyptus trees grace many southern California cities and towns. Vetch is an important legume used in crop rotations and as a livestock feed. Kudzu has been spreading across the southern US at the rate of 150,000 acres per year, choking out native vegetation.
The familiar house sparrows, starlings, and pigeons that populate our cities were all “imported”, as were some types of bees, mites, moths, and mosquitoes. Horses were brought to America centuries ago by Europeans; today horses are a large part of contemporary culture in many areas of the U.S. So some introductions have been welcome contributors to our land and our culture, while others not so much.
New species with traits quite different from species that are already present are likely to either out-compete, and eventually displace, existing species, or they will be so completely unsuited that they will die quickly. Tumbleweeds, kudzu, and Johnson grass have been incredibly successful in quickly spreading across all the land within broad climatic zones. Hydrilla has choked waterways to the extent that motorboats cannot be operated in those waters. Homeowners in many areas of the country annually fight to prevent Johnson grass from overtaking their lawns and flowerbeds. Tumbleweeds soak up precious ground water in arid areas of the western US, limiting the amount of grass that grows that can feed both wildlife and cattle, and retain the topsoil. Tumbleweeds have spread rapidly, not because they are drought-tolerant, but because of the unique method they have to spread their seed. This allowed tumbleweed to spread dozens of miles or more every growing season after their initial introduction; within a few decades they covered much of western US. Hydrilla is taking over Florida waterways because there are no fish or other aquatic animals in Florida that will eat the Hydrilla, and because it grows extremely fast. Johnson grass spreads by underground rhizomes, and is not killed by fire or heavy grazing or repeated mowing- all actions that will kill many other weeds.
There is a very important difference between GMO crops and invasive imported plants like tumbleweed and Hydrilla. Existing GMO crops do not create plants that have characteristics that will cause them to overrun other plants. In the case of Bt corn, being able to resist certain insects will give Bt corn an advantage (temporarily) over non-Bt corn, but Bt corn is still corn – it will only grow where corn can grow now. A glyphosate-resistant crop has no advantage over the non-glyphosate-resistant version of the same species in an uncultivated setting, since being glyphosate resistant is neither helpful nor detrimental to the plant “in the wild”. In fact, being glyphosate resistant causes the plant to expend slightly more energy during the growing season than does a non-glyphosate-resistant variety of the same plant. (This would be a very tiny difference – something that could be detected in a sophisticated lab – maybe.) However, over the course of many years, the glyphosate resistant genes would slowly disappear (there is much evidence that organisms tend to get rid of “unnecessary” genes over the span of thousands of generations, due to the fact that random mutations to those non-essential genes destroys the genes but does not impact the ability of the plant to survive.) All of the genes inserted into GMO crops are “non-essential”, which is to say that the plant will grow just as well without the extra genes as with the genes. Thus, if we scattered our GMO seed into an undisturbed area and came back a thousand years from now, we would likely find that the GMO genes had mutated so as to become non-functional, or they might have disappeared entirely. There are many examples of this type of gene selection that have been well studied by many laboratories.
An exception is a genetic modification that preserves the species, such as was the case with Hawaiian papaya. Similar induced virus resistance may preserve the yellow squash, although squash is an “artificial” plant that exists only because humans created it. Oranges are a plant variety that is now seriously threatened by a virus; it can be saved only by genetic modification (or maybe massive use of insecticide). Thus, genetic engineering can preserve species that would otherwise disappear.
Another very important difference between the invasive imported plants and GMO crops is that the new species are genetically very different from existing plants. “Very genetically different” means that the plant has many thousands of genes that are very different from the plant species that already exist in a location. Individual mutations (which occur constantly in the genes of all plants and animals including ourselves) do not radically change the overall characteristics of the plant. GMO plants differ from the non-GMO variety of the same plant by only a very few genes.
Bt corn has one additional gene that provides the “instructions” for making Bt toxin. The Bt gene has no other functionality. It does not change the plant’s preference for soil type, temperature, water, or sunlight. Bt plants will grow only where non-Bt plants of the same variety will grow.
Glyphosate resistant plants contain an additional gene that is slightly different from the naturally occurring gene. The additional gene specifies a slightly different version of the same enzyme that is specified by the naturally occurring gene, and the modified enzyme does the same exact function as the naturally occurring enzyme, but it works even when it is exposed to glyphosate, while the naturally occurring enzyme does not function in the presence of glyphosate. Thus, glyphosate-resistant plants have no functionality that is in any way different from the non-glyphosate-resistant plant of the same variety.
Apples have four genes that produce the chemical that causes sliced apples to turn brown almost immediately. The new arctic apples have those four genes altered so they are not functional. Apples have over 57,000 genes, so four genes is a very tiny part of the total genomic content of the plant – a very tiny change in the overall genetics of the plant. (Corn has about 32,000 genes.)
These modified apples are generally as insect resistant as non-modified apples, but one insect that eats apples has shown some preference for the modified apples (apparently it does not like the chemical that causes browning). A slight preference by insects for the modified apples would likely result in the trees bearing modified apples eventually disappearing if they were left with trees bearing non modified apples in a non-cultivated field for perhaps thousands of years, since the apple trees carrying the deactivated gene would be at a competitive disadvantage due to that insect.
A more valid concern about a GMO plant becoming an invasive species could be directed at modifications that cause the plant to become more drought-tolerant. This type of modification would allow the plant to grow in areas it could not previously grow, and thus compete with existing plants in the area. Drought-tolerant GMO varieties have great promise as important food crops, either by allowing the same crop to be grown in the same place as now, but with less water, or to be grown in places the crop cannot now be grown. However, food crops grow abundantly only under the artificial conditions of cultivation (with the exception of some berry crops), and seldom are found in large stands in non-cultivated areas. This is because almost all food crops are plants that have been extensively altered from their original wild ancestors, and they have been selected to grow well under human-designed cultivation conditions, rather than “wild” conditions. (At present, there are no drought-tolerant crops being grown, but drought-tolerant rice has been developed. Drought-tolerance is a trait that would clearly help nations feed their people if the global climate continues to warm in the future as much as it has over the past 100 years.)
To summarize, ever since Europeans first landed on America’s coastlines people have been intentionally and unintentionally introducing new species of plants and animals to North America. The introduction of these new species in some cases radically changed the ecology of many areas of the U.S. The introduction of these new species has also given us “experiments” from which we have learned much about the abilities of a new plant or animal to survive and prosper in its new environment. The “experiment” has run, in some cases, hundreds of years. While there is no question that imported species have radically altered North America over the last 600 years, it is clear that the environment has not been “catastrophically” altered. GMO crops, being so very similar to the non-GMO crops, do not have the capability to wrought the immense changes to the landscape as were caused by plants like tumbleweeds.
In the case of corn, the corn we eat today is very different from the corn our ancestors might have eaten at the first Thanksgiving Diner. Those differences are the result of human interventions, and those changes were developed by accident, or trial-and-error experiments, with no knowledge of what genes were being substituted for what other genes. The resulting corn plant did not develop into an invasive weed, but rather into a critically important source of food that grows poorly if at all in uncultivated environments. Additional modifications will come in the future to make corn grow more efficiently (take less land and less water) and thus be more environment-friendly than today’s corn.
Corn is a clear example of a genetically engineered crop which has become commonplace in the American landscape, and has had zero negative ecological impact.
Based on the history of plants that have been imported to North America, and the science of genetics that is the basis for the development of new varieties of plants, there will be no long-term negative ecological consequences that will arise from the development and use of GMO crops. In fact, there will likely be some very significant reductions in the environmental impact of agriculture with the development and use of more GMO crops in the future.


#14

I think you are making a claim that is not supportable. I find no reason to believe that "Gilded Age" style trusts can operate in Europe or the U.S., based on what is publicly known about anti-trust actions that have been taken in recent years against global technology companies. Based on the wide swings in commodity prices we have seen over the past few decades, it is difficult to believe that those price swings have been "dictated" by profit-loving companies.
I'm not sure what you intend to accomplish by calling me a "transparent PR hack". In academia or in business, people who have valid, useful ideas typically advance those ideas through presentation of evidence and logical argument. It does not work very well to simply throw insults at people that do not agree with your ideas. It so happens that the combination of my work and academic experiences in biotechnology, farming, aerospace, and petroleum industries leads me to have a somewhat different understanding than you of global commerce. In particular, I see way more good than harm in the current system; I see much that is not very attractive in the isolationist, anti-business ideology that some people are advocating. We live in a very artificial environment that affords many people a way of life that is way more comfortable and secure than my grandparents' generation knew in the late 1800's. If you really learn about the lives of earlier generations, you come to really appreciate all the benefits that our current globalized society brings to us. More and more people across the all continents are experiencing improved health, improved food security, and even a slow reduction in hostile military action (with some obvious exceptions). Yes, there are some ways that each country and culture could be more mutually supportive of other countries and other cultures. But world conditions are so much better now than they were even 50 years ago, for so many people. I'm old enough to remember what transportation, communication, medical care, and even grocery stores were like after WWII. Today things are so much better in so many ways, and most of that improvement has been because of the rise of global corporations with enough resources, motivation, and centralized focused control to cooperate and implement products and services that have radically changed the world. The recent advances in biological knowledge, painstakingly achieved by scientific collaboration in thousands of labs around the world, are enabling future major improvements in the treatment of many diseases, improvements in nutrition, and even environmental remediation, as we learn how to genetically modify bacteria to perform an amazing array of difficult chemical reactions. Even today, as we see the spread of the Zika virus and the serious burden it has the potential to place on society, we have the scientific knowledge and the technical know-how to eradicate the disease, and other mosquito-borne diseases. It remains to be seen if a radical minority, in the name of ideology and fear, will succeed in sentencing billions of people to the pain, suffering and death from mosquito-carried disease, or if the good of the majority prevails and we eradicate the diseases.


#16

Please present the "good evidence".


#18

Yes the pro economy and markets comments do not add anything constructive to the dominant corruption that rules.


#19

Industry 'science' is NOT science. It is merely corporate communications that have been given an elevated status and authority. This political-economic contrivance has allowed industry communications to supplant real science, and thereby create a false discussion based on the charade of authenticity. The fact that this corruption rules us highlights its undemocratic, fascistic power.

How to pop the bubble - do real science that is transparent and publicly accountable.
Get all the industry slaves and zealots out of governance.
Keep them out - a government of the people not staffed by corporate thugs.


#20

Thanks for showing off your endless supply of corporate-spin boilerplate.

Again, your lack of understanding is awe-inspiring. You've got some technical detail swimming at the front of your brain, but a basic grasp of the way the Earth works, is sorely lacking.

i also have no apology. Please monitor the accelerating dis-integration of the ecology, and see how that impacts the corporate balance sheets you so assiduously defend.


#21

You claim I don't understand, but you have said nothing to refute anything I said - absolutely nothing.
Making the empty claim that I am providing "corporate-spin boilerplate" does not support your position.
You are making it clear you don't agree, but to someone else reading this, you are not providing any factual reasons why I am wrong.
Please tell me, what "corporate" actions do you believe are causing degradation of the environment?
I can tell you right off that one action that many people have taken that has had a negative impact on the environment is to reject biotechnology.
There is plenty of evidence for that - the many scientific papers that were the basis for the NRC's GMO report.
Now, please quit just printing meaningless insults and explain why you believe what you believe, and why, really, are you so adamant that GMOs are bad? How did you form that belief?


#22

So you are unwilling to accept that statements about the safety and environmental benefits of GMOs that have been made by hundreds of independent scientific societies in many countries? Are you unwilling to accept that those scientific societies reflect the consensus opinion of their members, almost all of which are Ph.D. research scientists who actually understand the subject? If over 300,000 research scientists, through their independent societies, agree that GMOs are safe and environmentally beneficial, why do you reject that, regardless of what some industry says or does not say? Don't you understand that a company that makes a product that does not work does not stay in business? The discussion about the safety and environmental benefits of GMOs has absolutely nothing to do with "corporate communications". It has everything to do with scientifically validated facts. When a company, through its own PR department, or through an industry trade organization, makes statements that are in agreement with scientifically verifiable facts, that is fine. It does not necessarily add to our knowledge, but at least we can be pretty sure that the basis for their product is sound science. You are very, very, misled if you really believe that the science cited by the NRC GMO report is biased. The scientific papers on which the NRC based its report are all publicly available. Unlike the reports that claim that GMOs are harmful, every study, every experiment can be and has been reviewed by hundreds of scientists. You may not appreciate the fact that people who are research scientists read hundreds of scientific research reports every year, and they are always sensitive to anything that is not well documented, or poorly done, or just plain nonsense. Anyone who has achieve some degree of above-average expertise in any job skill - be it plumbing, welding, bricklaying, or scientific research - has a "trained eye" for noticing defects in their specialty that others would not notice. Those of us who read a lot of original research papers have been trained to notice when experiments and studies are done poorly - it gets to be as obvious as a brick that gets set crooked in a wall. So, it is beyond credibility to claim that any of the research reports on which the NRC based its conclusions were wrong, poorly done, or just plain misleading advertising. You are completely wrong that "industry communications have supplanted real science". That is a completely, totally false statement. It so happens that industry communications agrees with established biological facts that have been accumulating and continually refined since Pasteur discovered that heat killed the bacteria that cause sickness. The statement "GMOs are safe" is NOT an isolated fact that is separate from all other biological knowledge. "GMOs are safe" is a direct conclusion that follows from everything we know about physiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry of all living things. It is the same science that explains why and how bacteria were genetically modified to produce the human insulin that millions of diabetic people depend on for life. It is the same scientific knowledge that led to the development of the breakthrough genetically engineered cancer treatment that has beat back the life-ending cancer that has affected President Jimmy Carter, and will quite possibly provide someone in your own family with a full life after the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. As much as some ideological activists try to ignore the facts, the science that has produced GMO crops also has produced substantial improvements in cancer treatment and treatments for other formerly fatal diseases. Those treatments have been developed because we have gained so much knowledge of molecular biology and the biochemistry of life over the last 150 years, but most importantly the knowledge we have gained over the last 15 years as a result of hundreds of thousands (yes, hundreds of thousands) of research projects conducted in labs around the world that have depended on genetic engineering. With rare exceptions, corporations do not do the "basic science" that leads to new products. Such research is funded by governments and private foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. That is where the science has been done that has built the knowledge that GMOs are safe, and enabled biotech corporations to develop the over 300 different varieties of GMO plants currently sold to farmers in over forty countries. Contrary to the false claims made to try to convince people that GMOs are bad, our knowledge of biology is all public, written into dozens of graduate-school level text books, and millions of pages of scientific reports maintained by the National Institutes of Health as well as many global publishing companies. There are no "secret experiments" that show GMOs are bad, there is no separate "truth" to be found, and there is no "corruption" of scientific fact.
Anti-science activists like to point to "big tobacco" as an example of "corrupt science". It is a false example. Here is why: prior to the 1950's, before the discovery of the structure of DNA, our knowledge of molecular biology was very limited. As that knowledge grew, an increasing number of independent scientists and public health experts began to start putting different, seemingly separate observations and discoveries together. As knowledge grew, an increasing number of scientists joined the growing consensus that tobacco use was, somehow, inducing bad health outcomes. The growing consensus among scientists and public health experts finally led to Congress ordering warnings on tobacco products in 1984. Now contrast those event to today: an ever - increasing number of scientific reports, pronouncements by scientific societies, and government regulatory agencies support the "GMOs are safe" position. There is no scientific drift to say otherwise. The "GMO labeling" pressure is strictly due to money: certain companies see a chance to make an outsized profit by selling "organic" products to people that get scared into believing they will die if they eat GMOs. It is just as unethical and immoral as you claim tobacco advertising was or is - it is advertising that takes advantage of the ignorance of science by many consumers to sell something that, if presented honestly, would not be purchased at inflated prices. Given that we nearly all agree that we do not want our society to degrade "the environment" unnecessarily, the "anti-GMO" campaign is even more repulsive, as it clearly places corporate profit first over environmental concerns, while those most guilty of the fraud scream loudly that it is their GMO-enabled competition that is guilty of environmental abuse. Sorry, but the facts, independent of what either corporate group is saying, clearly favor the use of GMOs. Even more potentially harmful to public health is the pressure to remove vitamin and mineral additives from food products because of fears of GMO products. The addition of vitamins and certain elements like iodine to specific foods was one of the major advances in public health in the 1920's to 1940's, preventing millions of cases of rickets and other vitamin and mineral deficiency cases of disease. This is a clear case of the profit-motivated drive to remove GMOs from the food supply taking priority over legitimate public health concerns that have been resolved for decades. (And I will point out that the "scientific papers" that have shown "evidence" for GMO harm have been largely funded by organizations supported by the organic food and homeopathic medicine groups - without the support of the broader scientific community). So no - GMOs are not at all like tobacco. Quite the opposite - it is the anti-GMO voices that are being funded and supported by "corporate science" that does not agree with actual, "transparent" publicly available science that is taught in every graduate-level class in every research university in the world. And, almost all of the research that has led to so many scientists and scientific organizations all over the world agreeing that "GMOs are safe" was publicly funded; all NIH funded research by law public domain knowledge. At the present time, approximately 400 new scientific reports from biomedical research work are published every day - from labs all over the world. Most of that biomedical research is devoted to identifying the cause of disease, from the acute, life-ending diseases like cystic fibrosis, and cancer to the slow degenerative diseases. Each of those scientific reports represents typically many man-years of laboratory work - I know that because I work with people who do the work. Everyone involved is testing every possible hypothesis about how disease develops. The anti-GMO activists play on consumers' ignorance of science to claim that great and obvious harm is being ignored by health officials and scientists. That is such a total lie. I have sat in many a scientific seminar, going through scientific reports, discussing the work done by other research labs, looking for what they might have missed, or should have done differently to improve the quality of their research. Those kinds of meetings go on constantly, all over the world, in every research institution. If GMOs were causing even the smallest amount of long term disease, it would have been found by now. Instead, the suggestion that GMOs might be causing harm never comes up, and in those meetings, most of the research that is discussed used genetic engineering. While genetic engineering may seem mysterious to the consumer, within the scientific community it is no more remarkable than for you to take your car to the shop to get the oil changed. Genetic engineering is very well understood by every research scientist and student that works in molecular biology. They know how it works, what goes wrong, and how to get the desired results. And those results are increasingly leading to breakthrough medical treatments, as well as a rapidly growing inventory of modified crops that are "consumer oriented" - improved nutrition, improved disease resistance, better shelf life. As just one example of the huge harm being done by activists who try to prevent the use of genetically modified crops, 20% of the world's potato crop is lost every year to disease that could be prevented by the use of existing, proven genetically engineered potatoes. That is a lot of wasted crop, and a lot of farmers that suffer because they are needlessly loosing their crops. The continual profit-driven anti-GMO campaign hurts so many people in so many ways. The claim that GMOs are approved only by "corruption" and "corporate science" is a claim that can be made only by those who totally do not understand the vast extent of public knowledge and publicly supported research.


#31

Dr. William Davis is one of quite a few unethical profiteers who make millions of dollars off of the ignorance and gullibility of people who never learned to critically and objectively analyze the world around them. Think about it: We spend billions of dollars a year on publicly funded health-related research. Private foundations support billions more in research on health issues of particular interest and concern to them. Every major disease, and many "orphan diseases" have non-profit organizations that support people with those diseases and raise money for targeted research and public education about those diseases. Here are some statements from the Celiac Disease Foundation: "Research studies suggest that celiac disease affects 1 percent of the population worldwide, with only 1 in 6 of those going on to be diagnosed. Yet, according to research firm NPD Group, 11 percent of American households follow a gluten-free diet, and about 25 percent of American consumers believe that a gluten-free diet is good for everyone.What are the implications of this trend for those with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders? " "Some individuals with celiac disease are asymptomatic, but everyone with the disease is still at risk for long-term complications, including: Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature and intestinal cancers, among others. The prevalence of celiac disease is doubling approximately every 15 years, and we still don’t know why." "Fact vs. fad vs. fiction: The gluten-free trend is both helpful and hurtful for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. On one hand, the gluten-free trend means the number of gluten-free options that can be found in grocery stores and restaurants across the country has increased exponentially. Gluten-free food has become much more accessible and diverse. On the other hand, because so many people perceive the gluten-free diet as a fad and not a medical necessity for a segment of the population, they discount the serious implications of accidental gluten exposure for individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. This becomes especially relevant when celiac disease patients eat outside of their home. Very often, questions to restaurant staff about meal ingredients and how foods are prepared are perceived as excessive or annoying. For individuals with celiac disease, however, these questions are critical for health. Marilyn G. Geller Chief Executive Officer Celiac Disease Foundation"
So: here is the Non-profit, Patient Advocacy organization that is at "ground zero" of the Celiac Disease issue, and they right off say "we don't know the cause", and go on to say that the gluten-free fad both helps and hurts people who actually have the disease. It is simply beyond the limits of sanity to think that one person would have a monopoly on knowledge about a complex disease process that is a disorder of the most complex part of your body, the immune system, that literally tens of thousands of biomedical scientists have and do spend their entire careers studying. People who make money (and they make a lot) promoting diets and other sensationalistic health advice are no better than the snake-oil salesmen of an earlier time who went from town to town selling worthless junk to people desperate for quick cures. (By the way, that is why Congress created the Food and Drug Administration - to put a stop to the harm being done by these legions of get-rich-quick scam artists.) Unfortunately, modern technology and profit-before-ethics business practices allow modern scam artists to gain wide television audiences by appealing to a large audience of people who never learned to think for themselves. These modern scam artists are not actual snake oil salesmen, they are just a special part of the entertainment industry that get paid big bucks to get people to what their shows and buy the products they hype.
It is a sad state someone like Dr. Davis, who is not a research scientist, makes money off of sensationalist, unverifiable claims that are counter to the consensus opinion of people who actually study the immunological and cellular response to gluten and related immunological disorders. The vast majority of M.D.s are honest, caring people who have dedicated their lives to helping people who are sick, or to helping society identify and pursue beneficial public health policies. Yet there are a few people - very few - who find it too easy to ignore basic ethical values and take advantage of people. M.D.s, know all too well that many people "fall" for sensationalist "the cure" promotions. Many M.D. report that they spend more time trying to get their patients to forget the latest hype on TV and just follow the treatment plan than has been shown over and over to be effective, than they do in actually treating the patient. By being gullible and foolish, many people support someone like Dr. Davis (or Dr. Oz), who are the worst of the "corporate science" promoters whose perceived influence you wish to remove from government. Biology is extremely complex. We make advances in knowledge in small steps, as a consequence of the labor of tens of thousands of graduate research students and lab technicians and research scientists who work for many years on a single narrow problem. Occasionally, significant advances are made, confirmed by hundreds of independent labs in major research universities around the world. People like Dr. Davis do not have any great scientific insight, they do not know some great hidden truth. What they do know how to do is convince you to part with your money in return for "advice" that no research scientist who works in biomedical research would follow or believe.
Here is something to think about, if you care to: a hundred years ago, a child born with severe Celiac disease would have died early in life; whatever the genetic mutation is that leads to Celiac disease symptoms would not have been passed to future generations. With improved understanding of immunological disorders, these people live somewhat normal lives, reproduce, and spread that genetic mutation to future generations. Furthermore, our diagnostic capabilities continue to improve, and we are able to more definitively diagnose disease. So it is quite possible that the increase in Celiac disease, to the extent that it is "real" and not just a consequence of changed diagnostic capabilities, is a consequence of improved medical treatments for the disease. We may have traded death for life-long disease. Just a few short decades ago we had no young adults who had cystic fibrosis, because everyone with that disease died by age seven. Now those people live into their thirties and beyond, thanks to the research that has been done at the research hospital where I work, and other similar institutions. So the unthinking knee-jerk reaction might be: look, this is horrible! In the past people did not have cystic fibrosis! Obviously all these people have this terrible disease because of .... (whatever you want to claim)! That would be really, really obviously stupid, right? Well, the same sort of non-logic gets applied to a lot of other health issues. It seems so much easier to simply blame some single factor than it is to say, O.K., we don't understand all of this, let's accept that and start putting the puzzle together. Unfortunately, way too many people choose to line the pockets of modern snake oil salesmen. If you are going to give away your money, the socially responsible thing to do is to support a private foundation that has the expertise to put your money to work helping to find real causes for disease and suffering.