Jan 19 2015

Golden Rice Follow Up

There is a major anti-golden rice smear and disinformation campaign underway, spearheaded by Greenpeace with other anti-GMO activists on board. They themselves consider golden rice to be a “Trojan horse” for GM technology in general, so they essentially admit that their motivation is to oppose GM technology, even if that means opposing a technology that can save the sight and lives of poor children.

Golden rice is a genetically modified rice variety with enhanced production of beta carotene, the pro-vitamin of Vitamin A. The name derives from its golden color, provided by the beta carotene, the same thing that makes carrots orange. Carrots, by the way, were originally white and were modified through breeding to produce beta carotene, which was a very successful biofortified campaign in Europe that effectively combated vitamin A deficiency.

In response to my post from last week on biofortified GM crops, one commenter did a large “cut and paste” into the comments (generally considered a comment etiquette no-no, but I let it through because the topic is so important) with essentially the full anti-golden rice propaganda. The commenter seemed to think this constituted a “convincing” argument. Let’s see.

*GR IS STILL NOT READY

While there have been long delays in the development of GR since it was “invented” in 2000 (1), this has not been due to the activities of anti-GMO activists, but to basic R&D problems.

This is confirmed in a statement by the International Rice Research Institute, the main body working on the GR project (2). According to the Institute, the time frame for developing a new product is about 13 years, and GR is “still under development and evaluation”. In September 2013 the IRRI expected GR to take another two years before it was ready.

While this point is essentially correct, it is not an argument against the adoption of golden rice. Golden rice (GR) development began in the 1980s. By 2000 the first GR variety was ready, but it produced too little beta carotene to be effective. GR2, using different genes, was ready by 2005 and contained 23 times as much beta carotene as GR 1. This is enough to effectively combat vitamin A deficiency in cultures that consume rice as their primary staple.

So why has GR2 not been implemented 10 years later? This is a complex question, but after reading multiple sources it does seem that the primary reason is that further development is necessary. GR2 was developed from an American rice strain, and is not well adapted to the Asian countries that can most benefit from it. What is happening now is that GR2 is being bred with local varieties that are locally adapted (a process called introgression). The goal is to produce a strain with the beta carotene but also with local traits so that is can match existing cultivars in yield and disease resistance. This will be necessary for widespread acceptance by farmers.

This process is time consuming, partly because there are multiple strains of GR2 (representing different locations in which the new genes were inserted), and researchers don’t know which one will make the best cross with the local rice varieties. This is why field testing is so important.

But the story is not just that the scientific process of development takes time. Vandalizing of field trials in the Philippines, motivated by anti-GMO sentiments, has caused a delay in the research. Some also argue that the regulatory burden in many countries is excessive, and is motivated by public opposition to GM. 

This is a good example of the circular nature of many anti-GMO arguments – anti-GMO activism is slowing the development process for new GM varieties, which is then criticized as being slow.

In any case, by all accounts we are in the final stages of developing commercially viable strains of GR2 for Asian markets where they are most needed.

*GR IS NOT NEEDED

GR is an expensive and unproven ‘solution’ to a problem for which better solutions exist. It has swallowed millions in development money and yet is still not ready.

In contrast, World Health Organisation programs to combat vitamin A deficiency are cheap, already available – and proven to work. They focus on methods such as educating people to grow green leafy vegetables in kitchen gardens, encouraging breastfeeding of babies, and giving supplements and fortified foods when necessary.(3) Research by Dr Vandana Shiva’s organization Navdanya in India has calculated that green leafy vegetables are up to 3500% richer in beta-carotene than GR.(4)

These programs only need modest funding to roll out more widely. They have the additional advantage of simultaneously treating other nutritional deficiencies, as these do not occur in isolation. For example, beta-carotene can only be absorbed by the body if the person eats enough fat. Will GR proponents give out dietary fat with the GR to those who need it?

This is an absurd and factually challenged version of the Nirvana fallacy. Sure – if we fixed the problems of poverty, food distribution, and poor education we would solve malnutrition in general. Of course we should be working toward these broader goals, but they are obviously not going to be fixed any time soon (even if every dime spent on GR development were instead devoted to these underlying problems).

GR is also not expensive. It’s hard to come up with a single figure, but at the low end estimates are that $2.6 million has been spent on development so far. One study estimated that the total cost of bringing GR to market in India would be $21-$28 million for the next 30 years. This is less than $1 million per year, and most of those costs are for promotion and marketing.

By all accounts GR would be a highly cost effective solution to vitamin A deficiency, even more cost effective than the alternatives promoted by anti-GMO activists.

Of course, we should continue to pursue other solutions as well, such as supplementation and introducing more crop varieties to local farmers. These efforts are under way, and they have an effect, it’s just not enough.

These objections sound very similar to those by anti-fluoridationists – we don’t need fluoride in the water because brushing with toothpaste and other dental hygiene interventions are effective. This is the same fallacy – universal public health measures have the advantage of being universal and automatic. Historically they are therefore much more effective. They are particularly effective for the target populations, such as the poor.

 Other problems with GR include:

1. Hidden Information on GR’s Genetic Makeup

There has been no adequate characterisation of GR in the peer-reviewed literature (5). Where there is secrecy, there is mistrust.

No information is hidden. GR development programs are open source. Here is a detailed description of the metabolic pathways altered in GR. The genes inserted and their locations are known. This is simply a false accusation.

2. Breeding Problems

The early varieties of Golden Rice were GR1 and GR2 — both bred from Japonica rice varieties because of severe difficulties with breeding from Indica varieties. In the areas which are being initially targeted – India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Philippines – the vast majority of the population eats Indica, not Japonica varieties. Testing of a GR Indica variety did not start until 2010 and outdoor trials appear to be confined to the Philippines. There is still no published data available as to the stability, uniformity, yields or beta-carotene levels of either the older or newer versions of GR.

There are no breeding “problems” with GR. The researchers used the rice varieties that are commonly used in research, and are therefore well understood, and now are crossing the GR varieties with locally adapted varieties. Field trials were initially in the US, because of regulatory red tape elsewhere, and now are taking place in the Philippines, which is more appropriate. Essentially the argument here is that – science is taking time, and regulatory hurdles are slowing the process. None of this has anything to do with the safety, effectiveness, and cost effectiveness of GR.

3. Beta-carotene Persistence

No one knows how much beta-carotene will remain in GR over time when stored in normal domestic conditions. When some GR1 was sent in 2001 to scientists in Germany, they found that the level of beta-carotene was less than 1% of what it should have been. After cooking the level declined further, by 50%. This finding set back the project by many years.

Persistence of beta carotene over time is certainly an issue that needs to be monitored. However, researchers at the International Rice Research Institute have found that the beta carotene levels remain high in rice stored for three months. There is no reason to think they will drop off dramatically after that.

Like most of the other objections, this is not a known issue with GR. Opponents are simply raising every possible thing that could theoretically go wrong with a new technology as if it is a deal-breaker. If this becomes an issue, then scientists will address it. Right now it is not known to be a problem.

4. Bioavailability

No one knows how “bioavailable” the beta-carotene in GR will prove. Only two published human feeding studies have been conducted to test this – a controversial child-feeding study published in 2012 and an earlier feeding study involving adults, published in 2009 (see point 7 below). Both these “proof of principle” studies fail to give information on whether GR would work in a real-life situation. For example, the GR samples were stored at -80 degrees C and -70 degrees C respectively, prior to their use in the trials. This was to delay any decline in beta-carotene levels. The studies gave no information as to the usefulness of GR in real domestic situations and in a typical diet. Also, the adult feeding study was designed to maximise the absorption of beta-carotene through the addition of 10% butter to the test diet – an unrealistic scenario with respect to the poor people of Asia.

There are currently two published studies looking at bioavailability of vitamin A from GR. The first was a test in 5 healthy adults and showed good absorption. The second study was in 68 children aged 6-8 and compared GR to spinach to oil-based vitamin A capsules. They fount that the GR was as effective as the supplements, and more effective than spinach at increasing vitamin A levels. While these studies are limited and preliminary, they do indicate great bioavailability for vitamin A from GR. There is also no reason to suspect otherwise.

The objections above are not convincing. The child study, the larger and more definitive of the two, did involve real world situation, with only the addition of GR. The fact that the rice was refrigerated has nothing to do with bioavailability – that is just repeating the concern of persistence of beta carotene with storage, which again is likely not an issue.

Also, just a correction, in the adult study the rice was given with 10 g of butter, not “10%” butter.

5. Biofortification is Risky

GR is a “biofortified” product. But there are issues with “nutritional enhancement” and fortification. Due to differences between individuals (old and young, healthy and ill, male and female, overweight and undernourished), some people in the population will get too little of the nutrient and others too much. Overdosing on vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects, and in the case of smokers to an increased cancer risk. (6)

This, again, is the same objection that anti-fluoridationists use. Biofortification is not inherently risky. Such programs have a long history of safety and effectiveness, from iodine in salt to calcium and vitamin D in milk. It would be nearly impossible to consume so much GR that it results in vitamin A toxicity. Some people might not get enough, but no one is claiming that this one intervention will end vitamin A deficiency. It is simply one additional tool among several to address this serious problem.

6. No Proof that GR is Safe to Eat

Genetic modification can result in novel toxins or allergens being created in plants, or changes in nutritional value. New toxins or allergens can appear even if the gene of interest is taken from a non-toxic source, since changes can happen after the gene is inserted into the new host plant. Such unexpected changes are difficult to detect without dedicated animal feeding safety trials. One potential hazard, as pointed out by Prof David Schubert of the Salk Institute in the USA, is associated with retinoic acid, a vitamin A derivative which can damage human fetuses and cause birth defects. (7)

The study above in 68 children showed no adverse effects from eating GR, so that is evidence of safety. Sure, there are potential unforeseen consequences from any new cultivar, whether from breeding, mutation breeding, or GM technology. That is why testing is appropriate. So far there hasn’t been a single case of allergic reaction to a GM variety, nor has there been any adverse health outcomes.

This is the core of anti-GMO fearmongering, an absurd application of the precautionary principle. Any potential fear is exaggerated, rather than taking a rational risk vs benefit analysis. There is no such thing as zero risk, but the science and history of GM technology has shown the risks to be very low. Compare this to the known morbidity and mortality of vitamin A deficiency.

7. Unethical Trials on Humans

Even though GR has not been tested for unexpected toxins or allergens in animal feeding trials, the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, in conjunction with Tufts University, has conducted three feeding experiments on humans. One included the use of children “without adequate vitamin A nutrition” (10). In 2009 a group of 32 scientists (11) complained to Tufts about this breach of medical ethics and the Nuremburg Code. When the research resulted in the publication of two papers (in 2009 and 2012), there was a furore in China due to the use of children in one experiment without informed consent. The revelation led to the sacking of three Chinese officials and the forced retirement of the lead researcher at Tufts.

This is an excellent example of generating controversy in order to demonize a safe and effective technology. The real story here is that the Chinese trial was thoroughly reviewed by Tufts, and as reported by Science:

The reviews found no evidence of health or safety problems in the children fed golden rice; they also concluded that the study’s data were scientifically accurate and valid. Indeed, Souvaine’s letter to the USDA stresses that the results “have important public health and nutrition implications, for China and other parts of the world.”

However, there were issues with the informed consent and Chinese oversight of the study. While this is unfortunate, it has absolutely nothing to do with the scientific validity of the study. Nor is this an indictment of GR research in general. The 32 scientists were anti-GMO activists, but their objections are presented in a way to make it seem like the scientific community objected to the study. This is all an attempt to distract from the actual results of the study, which show that GR is an effective method of increasing vitamin A levels.

Conclusion

It is easy to raise objections to any new scientific research or technology. There are always many potential problems, research is never perfect, individuals make mistakes, and new technologies always seem to take more time than initially promised or that it seems like they should.

Any new technology or proposed solution can therefore be made to seem like a boondoggle if you obsess over the problems and make every effort to exaggerate them. You can make vaccines seem unsafe, fluoride in public water to be irresponsible, evolution to be uncertain, global warming to be a hoax, psychiatry to be a crime against humanity, or whatever suits your ideological agenda.

We are best served, however, not by ideological attacks but by a fair and thorough assessment of risks and benefits and cost effectiveness.

The available science and assessments indicate that GR is an extremely promising technology that gives every indication of being safe, effective, and cost-effective. It has the potential to save millions of children from going blind and thousands from dying .

Rather than opposing this technology, we should be providing public funding to support the corporate and charitable funding already being used. Field trials should be accelerated and GR should be fast-tracked, while conducting the extensive studies necessary to address every potential aspect of the technology. The potential humanitarian benefit is huge and worth the investment.

The misinformation campaign by anti-GMO groups serves only to slow the development and adoption of golden rice. In this case there is a measurable body count and human cost associated with their ideological opposition.

140 responses so far

140 Responses to “Golden Rice Follow Up”

  1. evhantheinfidelon 19 Jan 2015 at 12:13 pm

    This is a total shotgun approach/Gish gallop! Each one of the criticisms falls on its face when examined carefully, but even moderately informed people could look at this scary list of problems and think, “Even if only half of these are true, that’s still a huge number of problems with the technology!” Also, the sources do seem to actually support the claims in this case, too, unlike many cranks who list transparently unrelated sources to support their claims. The slickness of the anti-GMO campaign feels creepily slick to me.

  2. Ori Vandewalleon 19 Jan 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Here’s the thing for me. I am in no way qualified to determine whether or not GR is effective or safe, but I have yet to see any arguments showing that we shouldn’t try to do the research. Unlike pseudoscience, real science doesn’t “work” overnight. Maybe it will take time to develop safe and effective varieties of golden rice (and GMOs more generally). So what? How is that an argument against trying?

  3. nutrevolveon 19 Jan 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Great post Dr. Novella – sharing on twitter now. I wrote a quick followup to yours with some additional thoughts on the issue if you’re interested: http://tinyurl.com/o7cpctp

  4. Sylakon 19 Jan 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I like how to always complain that the science is slow or the “not enough research gambit” while doing everything they can to stop, slow and sabotage the science.

    I don’t want to get off topic but, it reminds me of a french article I read ( in “science et vie” ) about shale gas (my bias is against it, although I would like to have more evidence), So ok, France decided to ban fracking until more research is done. Ok that’s fine be me. But each time a university, a research group or a companies wanted to do a experimental drilling test, and really test it with science and objective data gathering, anti-gas lobby will do everything they can to block and scare people of it ( of course the French Media have a anti-gmo, anti-everything tendencies sometime, for example. “envoyés spécials”, a normally really good investigation reporting show ran a super bad anti-gmo story couple of years ago, It was horribly flawed) . So, political representative will step up and listen ( obey) to them and block the research ( and getting some vote in the same time of course). I do think a lot of their concern are right for once, I also think that we need to really know. But, after that they will go: “we don’t know” “there’s not enough research”. And A lot of scientist who wanted to do research think it is bad idea, But they wanted to find out if it is objectively. Funny thing is they should encourage those test because it might give them real evidence to make their point it that case.

    In the GMO case they have no interest into science, because this time, it clearly demonstrate they are wrong, and the legit concern they may have are already known and addressed. They do love science about climate change or animal and biodiversity protection, etc. The science is behind ecological concern a lot of time, in fact ecological concern are a question of science, not ideology not emotion and not about politic. It’s hard, I myself do love my planet, I do a lot of stuff to have a smaller “footprint” and I was the kind of person who gets very emotional about it. I had to realized my belief in Organic farming was misplaced, ( and that I was kind of lie to) it had hurt my ego. But in the end surrendering yourself to reality it the best way.

  5. tfkon 19 Jan 2015 at 11:59 pm

    Strange how number 4 implies that the vitamin won’t be absorbed and number 5 says that people will overdose on the vitamin. You’d think they’d at least put those claims a few items apart in the list.

  6. jsterritton 20 Jan 2015 at 12:17 am

    Excellent post, Dr Novella!

  7. RoninChurchillon 20 Jan 2015 at 11:34 am

    In regards to point #5, there is no risk of vitamin A toxicity from GR as GR contains only beta-carotene, not preformed vitamin A, and only preformed vitamin A is a potential teratogen. As for the increased risk of cancer among smokers, high-dose beta-carotene supplements appear to be at fault, not beta-carotene from food.

  8. _Arthuron 20 Jan 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I once had a (mostly one-way) discussion with a lady about the horrors of Monsanto.

    She revealed to me that Monsanto was practicing *monoculture*, of all sins.

  9. MikeBon 20 Jan 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Could someone please advise me?

    My ambition as a kid involved becoming a scientist of one kind or another, but it never happened. I didn’t lose interest, though. I’m one of the few English teachers to have actually read Origin of Species.

    I’m now a 54-year-old writing teacher and small farmer. Five years ago, I became disillusioned with “organics” and started investigating for myself the issues of pesticide toxicity, “sustainability,” and–yes–genetic engineering.

    I have now become obsessed by genetics. Barbara McClintock’s maize experiments, Belyaev’s breeding of Siberian foxes, this stuff fascinates me, but I am woefully underequipped to understand much of it. My last class in genetics was a biology survey, three quarters of college work in 1979.

    I’m asking: What books in contemporary genetics would people here recommend for a lay reader?

    Thanks.

  10. Not Now Johnon 20 Jan 2015 at 6:18 pm

    @MikeB

    Keeping up with genetics is a difficult task. I study coral disease using a number of phylogenetic approaches. The techniques I use are rather commonplace now, but make work done even 5 years ago seem useless. The technology advances so fast, it’s a full time job just keeping up with the literature. So I wouldn’t worry too much about the technology, and just try and look at things from a conceptual perspective. So with that said, I’ll make a few recommendations that might shape how you think about genes, genetics, and evolution. You can do a bit of research and decide which might interest you.

    The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

    The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

    Next by Michael Crichton

    Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

    The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

    The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey

    Mendel in the Kitchen by Nina Fedoroff

  11. grabulaon 20 Jan 2015 at 9:06 pm

    “I once had a (mostly one-way) discussion with a lady about the horrors of Monsanto.”

    One of my coworkers is one of those monsanto is evil, organic is the best types, but doesn’t really understand why she feels that way. Having a conversation about it always turns into she’s more open minded and I too esily buy into the ‘party line’, whatever that is.

  12. mumadaddon 21 Jan 2015 at 1:45 am

    MikeB,

    I’m currently doing a free course called Genetics and Evolution through Coursera. Most popular science books, while great, don’t get right into the technical nitty gritty, but these do, and they start off covering the very basic stuff. These are video lectures, with recommended supplementary reading and weekly problem sets.

    https://www.coursera.org/course/geneticsevolution

    There aren’t any future session listed as yet, but you could probably catch up quite easily; otherwise there will likely be similar courses available.

    Good luck!

  13. MikeBon 21 Jan 2015 at 6:06 am

    Marvelous! Thank you!

  14. fergl100on 21 Jan 2015 at 8:30 am

    “Molecular Biology of the Cell” by Alberts

    Depends how deep you want to go. But this book allows you to grasp the basics as it is so well written and so clearly set out, or to delve deeper if you so wish.

    Fantastic book in my opinion.

  15. Willyon 22 Jan 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Not sure if this is the place to ask a question like this, but I’ll try. First, we’ve been eating genes, DNA, and such in our plant based food for all of our history (all 6,000 years of it! :«) Just kidding). So, take the most extreme case of gene swapping I’m familiar with to date; the tomato-salmon cross. How is eating the resultant tomato in any way different from a “genes consumed” standpoint than it would be if we at a tomato and a salmon steak?

    I fully understand the possibility of introducing allergens from a cross (an easy example being a tomato X peanut) and I believe those kinds of possibilities are thoroughly tested for. Perhaps there are other “sensible” worries that I don’t recognize as my training in biology ended in high school, but to worry about a food product being tainted/bad based on the mechanism used to make DNA alterations makes no sense to me (and, I realize, most other readers of this blog).

    So, my question is what exactly is it that the anti-GMO crowd rears? Is there any possible “sensible” justification for their fears at all?

  16. Willyon 22 Jan 2015 at 6:59 pm

    In my next to last sentence, that’d be “fears”, not “rears”.

  17. jsterritton 23 Jan 2015 at 10:58 am

    @Willy

    “What exactly is it that the anti-GMO crowd fears?”

    Short answer: fear itself. Longer answer: while I’m sure there are different motivating fears for different anti-GMOers, the overarching one that binds them all together is the precautionary fallacy. Often tangled inextricably with the naturalistic and Nirvana fallacies, the precautionary fallacy stokes the flames of ignorance and anti-scientific belief at the heart of the anti-GM denialist movement. For some reason, people are convinced — against all evidence — that they are possessed of special knowledge about GMOs, their dangers, and the “true” motivations of biotech companies. In other words, anti-GMOers are conspiracy theorists. Taking arms diametrically against all evidence (and there’s a lot of it), anti-GMOers have appointed themselves stewards of all that is good and pure and natural (see fallacies above), objecting to GM food science even at the expense of illness and lives lost.

    PS: most people who fear GMOs are merely unfamiliar with what they are. They have been scared by the kooks, rather than influenced by the facts.

  18. Willyon 23 Jan 2015 at 1:29 pm

    My post may have overstated my ignorance (not by much), but I am really looking to see if anyone can offer sensible reasons for precautions beyond those we already undertake, which often seem like overkill in terms of dollars/time spent/wasted. The one that I mentioned–allergens–is logical. Perhaps there are “sensible” ones more like. I’m hoping an anti-GMO might offer something, but don’t really expect it. All I’ve heard to date is the fallacious stuff described above by jsterritt and I agree with those thoughts.

  19. jsterritton 24 Jan 2015 at 12:44 am

    The problem with anti-GMO arguments about actual food safety is that the “reasonable” ones — like allergenicity and toxicity — are well-studied and well-understood. The science is in. This leaves anti-GMOers with red herrings about business practices, conspiracy, and endless “what-ifs” that belie either a science-averse agenda or willful ignorance. I think that GM denialists are sincere, but zealots. No matter how nice a word it is, or how virtuous it sounds, using “precaution” as both a cudgel and a shield in direct opposition to real, scientific understanding is not a valid argument. In the case of GMOs, the denialists play the god-of-the-gaps gambit, using the always non-zero value of scientific uncertainty to sow seeds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The usual talking points range from mass farmer suicide to autism.

    Currently popular anti-GMO health claims are the same ones you’ll hear about the “American diet,” sugar, gluten, multiple chemical sensitivity, etc. So-called “endocrine disruption” and “diseases of the gut” are attributed to GM foods. Anecdotes and easy answers abound: people stop eating XYZ and their chronic Lyme remits. Don’t eat GMOs and you won’t get cancer. Sigh.

    As other commenters will tell you, the big concerns with any breeding process — allergies and toxicity — pertain less to GM than to other techniques, because GE is very precise and easy to make predictions about. And unlike other breeding techniques, GMOs must be tested for same prior to approval by the FDA (in the US, other agencies abroad). To my knowledge, no other (non-GM) cultivars — including those made using chemo and radiation mutagenesis — are subject to an approval process at all. This begs the question why GMOs are singled out for such alarmism.

    I’m sorry that I cannot provide even a single example of a plausible-sounding anti-GMO argument (and I’ve heard them all). It seems to boil down to an objection to “tinkering with nature.” Since the logical conclusion of this argument is to do away with agriculture, medicine, and disco, I find it hard to take seriously. The anti-GMOers I know are all over the place, poorly informed (mostly by choice), and focussed on anti-corporate arguments and grievances about farming techniques that have nothing to do with food safety. Because they would choose to avoid GMOs (which of course they can), they would have the world do the same.

  20. _Arthuron 24 Jan 2015 at 12:34 pm

    “Frankenfoods”

  21. jsterritton 25 Jan 2015 at 12:10 am

    @_Arthur

    “Frankenfoods.”

    Yep, Willy: frankenfoods are perhaps the most widely-dispersed meme about GM tech. They fall under the “what-if” branch of the precautionary fallacy. As in: what if genes inserted into GM foods find their way into X, Y, or Z and create hideous, planet-threatening abominations out of corn and Bt. The “Frankenfoods” argument covers everything from triffids to crop blight to vampire manbatpigs.

    Frankenfoods are the zombies of anti-food science. Either evil corporations will unleash the GM apocalypse as some sort of business model (kill all humans?) or careless food scientists, in their hubris, do it kind of accidentally. The endgame is the same: Vandana Shiva was right and the living will envy the dead.

    Pretty scary, hey kids?

  22. sonicon 26 Jan 2015 at 1:46 am

    It is true: there isn’t a cultivar of ‘golden rice’ that is ready for use.

    So the debate is about a hypothetical entity.

    The ‘anti’ group seems to be about the ‘precautionary principle’.
    They are worried the genetic genie will be let loose and we will have no way to return it and heinous consequences ensue.
    They demand the non-existent strain be disapproved on the basis that they might someday figure out there is a problem with it.

    The ‘pro’ people argue that we need this non-existent strain or else people will go blind. This seems to be a main theme of the ‘pro’ people– if we don’t do this there will be heinous consequences.

    They demand pre-approval of a non-existent strain on the basis of one study about a strain that is not suitable for the purpose intended.

    It seems the non-existent strain has different qualities to different people.

    I imagine after visiting the ‘pro’ camp and then the ‘anti’ camp the politician is confused beyond hope.
    And then his aide points out that the people he was talking to were talking about a nonexistent entity.

    Drinks for everyone!

  23. BillyJoe7on 26 Jan 2015 at 1:59 am

    Hi sonic,

    Have you been moving house?
    (Or maybe recovering from natural pesticide poisoning from your organically home grown produce?)

    (:

    The politician should not be visiting the pro camp and the anti camp, they should be visiting the science camp. Presumably the “hypothetical cultivar” will be ready when it has been produced and tested for safety and efficacy. Safety of course means there being no plausible reason why it would be unsafe as well as having gone though appropriate scientifically validated safety trials.

  24. Bruceon 26 Jan 2015 at 7:01 am

    Sonic:

    “And then his aide points out that the people he was talking to were talking about a nonexistent entity.”

    There is a train track in the town where I work that requires a road bridge over it to help ease the flow of traffic from the west to the south (it is actually highly controversial issue locally). This bridge does not exist yet. Does that mean that we should not talk about building this bridge or even look at the pros and cons of different routes it might take because it is “a nonexistent entity”?

    By your logic we should not even talk about new things because these new things that require discussion would confuse people. Is that really the best argument you can come up with? Perhaps you should listen to the SGU podcast before you post because your exact issue was actually addressed (and summarily dismissed as it should be).

  25. Steven Novellaon 26 Jan 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Sonic,

    Your characterization of the pro-side is a straw man, it seems to me because you are desperately trying to force the appearance of balance and symmetry between the two sides.

    The issue of vitamin A deficiency is not a “what if” about some possible future consequence. Half a million children a year go blind from vitamin A deficiency. This is happening right now. This is one possible solution to an existing problem, not a hypothetical unknown future consequence.

    Also, the proposed solution is not based on one study.

    Scientists have a working strain that produces adequate beta carotene to significantly reduce vitamin A deficiency if consumed as rice is already being consumed in many cultures suffering from vitamin A deficiency.

    We have a history of multiple biofortification programs working.

    Further, no one is asking for pre-approval of a non-existing strain. What we advocate (and what I explicitly advocated in my article) is to complete the development of cultivars that are suitable for use in the areas where they would be most effective. This is a promising solution and we are almost there. The funding is already there. What’s holding things up is largely unreasonable regulations and roadblocks designed to frustrate the ability to bring this GMO to market.

  26. ccbowerson 26 Jan 2015 at 11:17 pm

    The topic of genetic modification is among the most challenging of skeptical topics for discussion, and I am glad Steve have decided to emphasize this topic as of late. Not only does it intersect several ideologies, which has already confused and skewed the public discourse on the topic, but the topic of genetics itself is complex and beyond the understanding of most in the general public. Unfortunately, a basic understanding of genetics is needed to have a reasonably informed understanding of what genetic modification even is.

    It is quite a challenge even among skeptics, as anyone who has read the Facebook comments to a GMO related article posted by SGU or other skeptic organization. Then read the comments to the article itself to get really depressed. In casual conversations, I rarely discuss the topic even when it comes up, because there are not very many ways to effectively address the topic superficially (although tossing around the term GMO as a pejorative is often done superficially). Only in certain situations do I feel that engaging will be worthwhile. It’s a case of the complex truth versus the simplistic lie. It is pretty clear that this will continue to be an uphill battle for quite some time

  27. Bruceon 27 Jan 2015 at 4:55 am

    Doing my podcast rounds this week and finally getting to Science Friday (SGU always first and then I work down the list…) and they had someone on there trotting out a few of the usual anti-GMO tropes.

  28. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2015 at 6:24 am

    ccbowers: “It’s a case of the complex truth versus the simplistic lie”

    That’s a good way to put it…even though it’s a bit too…um…simplistic.

    It’s a case of the complicated stops and starts, false starts, dead ends, surges and stalls, meandering slowly and steadily towards what is most likely to be true based on the totality of the evidence available at the present time versus simply misunderstanding the aforementioned process.

    |:

  29. sonicon 27 Jan 2015 at 3:05 pm

    BJ7-
    I’ve been doing lots of hugelkultur.
    For me it’s about soil improvement- a change from human’s norm.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150107150740.htm

    For others it’s about waste management.
    https://www.wisconsin.edu/waste-research/download/2013_student_reports/13%20MSN%20Adams%20Hugelkultur.pdf

    Lately more people are talking about how these methods sequester carbon and how this will fight global warming.
    So suddenly I’m an eco-warrior showing the people the benefits of personally fighting global warming…

    A little irony for you.

    Bruce-
    Talk away.
    I was hoping to make the point the politician might withhold judgement until an actual cultivar deemed ‘ready’ was available.
    In the meantime he could expect to get pressure from those who are ideologically opposed and those who are ideologically in favor and those who see it as part of a profit making enterprise (get approval for one GMO, bring in the others… the ‘lost leader’ if you will).

  30. sonicon 27 Jan 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Dr. N.-
    And I thought I was presenting a straw man version of the ‘anti’ side.
    I’d say I gave the ‘anti’ side just as much straw as I did the ‘pro’ side. Fair and balanced. 🙂

    On a more serious note- the problem of the children exists. There are a number of possible solutions.
    Currently ‘golden rice’ is not one of them. Of course it is possible such a strain will be developed- that’s been the promise for well over a decade now.

    I wonder if the time and money spent trying to create the strain had been spent on other measures what the outcomes might have been. If the money for the ‘golden rice’ had gone to vitamin a supplements, a rather poor solution, at least there would be fewer blind people today.
    Currently the people in the area don’t want GMO.
    Why pick a solution that the people have expressly asked not be used?

    Golden rice is a great idea. It’s amazing how far they have come with the concept. It seems likely there will be a strain of rice with characteristics that would aid some people and reduce the incidence of blindness to that group.

    But given the track record it seems this is a lousy way to get something done.
    Too costly, too time consuming and culturally imperialistic.

  31. BillyJoe7on 27 Jan 2015 at 3:47 pm

    sonic,

    “A little irony for you”

    No, I am well aware that you are simply a prevaricator with a tendency to contrariness.

    That applies equally to your posts on GM and to your posts on climate change. The source of your inability to come to a decision on these matters, however, is your inability to shift fact from nonsense. You give everything equal weight. RealClimate. WattsUpWithThat. And then your contrariness shifts you in the wrong direction.

    It’s no surprise you are reducing your carbon footprint while denying the conclusions of climate change experts, because I suspect the reasons have nothing to do with climate change and more to do with the naturalistic fallacy. I’m pretty sure you won’t be growing GM food anytime soon.

  32. Steven Novellaon 27 Jan 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Sonic,

    The marketing research shows otherwise. It shows that people will accept biofortified GMOs and it shows that it is cost effective – more cost effective than other solutions.

    It may have a long wind up, but if it works it will have been worth it.

    There are already supplement programs. They are good but have limited success, not sufficient.

    But I love the – I am against GMO because people are against GMO – argument. Nicely circular.

  33. sonicon 28 Jan 2015 at 8:41 am

    BJ7-
    I won’t be growing any GMO food anytime soon- at least not purposely.
    I really wanted to avoid the whole GMO thing– trying to eat food that has no GMO and so forth.
    My body/brain/mind is involved in enough chemical experimentation all ready. I’ll be in the ‘control’ group for once.
    Or so I thought.

    My main problem is that the GMO contaminate both the gene pool and the food sources- at this point it is probably impossible to avoid GMO where I live.

    You seem to have ‘fact’ and ‘nonsense’ in distinct categories.
    You might want to re-evaluate.

  34. sonicon 28 Jan 2015 at 8:44 am

    Dr. N.-
    The question- ‘was it worth it?’ is only answered after the finish line has been crossed.
    There still isn’t a strain of golden rice suitable for the purpose proposed, so we can’t possibly know the costs involved.

    I’m not against golden rice at all– I point out that the people who this is intended for are- at least that’s the info I have.

    I’m not sure that would matter from the science perspective- but from the political perspective often that is all that matters.

  35. jsterritton 28 Jan 2015 at 3:39 pm

    @Sonic

    “I’m not against golden rice at all.”

    Strange, then, that you are arguing against its viability, utility, and desirability using circular and cynical reasoning. You know that GR is perfectly viable, of undeniable benefit, and at extraordinarily low cost. Your stupidest complaint — that it isn’t ready yet — is a perverted Nirvana fallacy (and a particularly diabolical one considering the stakes). That “we cannot possibly know the costs involved” is pure nonsense, a denialist’s tactic of trying to leverage any uncertainty into calamity. That you would presume to speak for “the people who this is intended for” is BS special pleading, dehumanizing, and wrong. The anti-GMO movement has shown itself time and again claiming the authority to speak for individuals and communities when it has no right to. Only a person who is very much against golden rice would use such tactics to discredit the lifesaving food, science, and humanitarian boon that is GR. Only an ideologue would invoke “cultural imperialism” as an argument against GR. And only a heartless asshole would call GR “too costly” and “too time-consuming” (GR is not only quantitatively the most cost-effective solution for the problem it addresses, it’s dirt cheap, practical, and sustainable).

    Your objections to GR are petty and cynical. Your arguments are terrible. People like you who do not care for GM technology no matter the benefit will always minimize that benefit. How else could you possibly sleep at night?

  36. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2015 at 6:15 am

    sonic,

    “You might want to re-evaluate”

    This from someone who said this:

    “…I won’t be growing any GMO food anytime soon…I really wanted to avoid the whole GMO thing…trying to eat food that has no GMO and so forth…My body/brain/mind is involved in enough chemical experimentation all ready…My main problem is that the GMO contaminate both the gene pool and the food sources…”

    Followed by this:

    “I’m not against golden rice at all”

  37. sonicon 29 Jan 2015 at 2:57 pm

    jsterritt-
    You present an idealized version of ‘golden rice’ and then claim I’m attacking that.

    You are an ideologue. Oh- Please– All the best people are these days. 🙂

    For the most part you seem to be arguing against what you think I think. What do I think about that tactic –oh, great mind reader?

    As far as the people wanting the stuff–
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/03/07/173611461/in-a-grain-of-golden-rice-a-world-of-controversy-over-gmo-foods

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/17/223382375/golden-rice-study-violated-ethical-rules-tufts-says

    BillyJoe7-
    I don’t watch rugby. I don’t play either.
    I’m not really against rugby- I prefer not to participate.

    I don’t ski either, come to think of it. I don’t really have anything against someone else doing it– I just don’t want to- thanks.

    I don’t really like tofu, either. I refuse to eat the stuff. It’s actually good for me that others like it so much.

    I guess I should have said you need to ‘evaluate’ instead of ‘re-evaluate’ as it appears the first evaluation hasn’t actually occurred.

  38. BillyJoe7on 29 Jan 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Sonic,

    Have you ever wondered why you use so many words to say nothing.
    Nothing you said in your most recent post reflects on anything I said in my last post.
    What you should have said is simply: “ah, yes, I see the contradiction”.

  39. jsterritton 29 Jan 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Sonic…

    You showed up here, said “I’m not against golden rice at all,” and in the same breath regurgitated all the most popular anti-GMO tropes. People responded appropriately and your defense is: “I’m just saying what other people are saying”?! You’re a dodgy character w/o courage to your convictions. You are clearly anti-GMO. Why not own it?

  40. grabulaon 29 Jan 2015 at 9:28 pm

    “…I won’t be growing any GMO food anytime soon…I really wanted to avoid the whole GMO thing…trying to eat food that has no GMO and so forth…My body/brain/mind is involved in enough chemical experimentation all ready…My main problem is that the GMO contaminate both the gene pool and the food sources…”

    and yet with all these chemicals floating around and all this horrible stuff Big Food is doing to our bodies, we’re living longer healthier lives…

  41. sonicon 30 Jan 2015 at 12:50 am

    BillyJoe7-
    When it comes to GMOs, I’m not for or against.
    I admit that I wanted to sit out the experiment and it is a bit disappointing that I couldn’t…
    Do you think this would enrage me to the point I would want innocent children to go blind?
    See– it isn’t a’re-evaluation.’ You never evaluated in the first place.

    What is your version of the idealized ‘golden rice’?

    jsterritt-
    If there is some concern I have expressed about GMO that you find irrational,
    please state it exactly so that we can discuss it.

    grabula-
    No doubt some of the chemistry experiments I’ve engaged in have made my life happier and healthier.

    Scientists demand controls in the experiments run.
    Corporations demand ‘market penetration’.

    Market penetration took out this willing control. Oh well, Life goes on.

    The ‘we are healthier’ thing is really getting quite questionable where I live–
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db50.pdf

    I’m not sure that is a useful card to play at this time.

  42. BillyJoe7on 30 Jan 2015 at 6:37 am

    sonic,

    This:

    “When it comes to GMOs, I’m not for or against”

    After this:

    “…I won’t be growing any GMO food anytime soon…I really wanted to avoid the whole GMO thing…trying to eat food that has no GMO and so forth…My body/brain/mind is involved in enough chemical experimentation all ready…My main problem is that the GMO contaminate both the gene pool and the food sources…”

    And this:

    “I admit that I wanted to sit out the experiment and it is a bit disappointing that I couldn’t…”

    After this:

    “GMO contaminate both the gene pool and the food sources…”

    Contaminate.
    One day I’m sure you will learn how to communicate.
    But I’m not holding my breath.

    “Do you think this would enrage me to the point I would want innocent children to go blind?”

    Blinded by your own political ideology, who knows what is possible.
    I am reminded, despite my best efforts to forget, of your disgraceful defence of religious exemptions from criminal charges against parents for the assault, battery, and murder of their young children.

  43. sonicon 30 Jan 2015 at 9:06 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I think I’m communicating just fine.
    I admit I’m less than 100% gun-ho about GMOs. I discuss a real problem that actually exists.
    This is unacceptable to some.

    And it becomes obvious who the ideologues are.

    The US Department of Agriculture uses the term ‘contaminate’–
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/16/us-usa-alfalfa-gmo-idUSBRE98F0GE20130916?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

    The fact you would have a problem with the exactly correct word to use is symptomatic of your ideological bias in this case, I believe.

  44. Teaseron 30 Jan 2015 at 10:19 am

    Pro-GMO propaganda starts in the 6th grade. Corporate brainwashing, not science.

    http://althealthworks.com/4596/no-bugs-more-food-concerned-mother-raises-red-flag-over-pro-gmo-propaganda-in-6th-graders-textbook-with-pictures/

  45. jsterritton 30 Jan 2015 at 11:46 am

    @sonic

    “I think I’m communicating just fine.”

    You argue against golden rice as “too costly, too time consuming and culturally imperialistic” and call golden rice “a lousy way to get something done.” These are absurd, petty, and mean arguments considering the low costs/high effectiveness of GR and how close to ready-to-deploy site-specific GR cultivars are. In other words, these are anti-GMO arguments that don’t bear even cursory examination. Surely, any argument against GR on these grounds that would offer a better solution. You offer none.

    You say that the people for whom golden rice is intended don’t want it, on the evidence that anti-GMO activists do not want it. You cite two irrelevant NPR articles that are both overwhelmingly supportive of GR. In one, an anti-GMO activist half-heartedly conflates for-profit seed companies with humanitarian open-source golden rice. Both articles are critical of a Chinese experiment of dubious ethicality. Neither of these provide any support for your claim that its intended beneficiaries do not want golden rice. That argument is, as I have said, BS, self-serving, and a lie.

    How everybody knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are an ideologically-motivated anti-GM conspiracy theorist is your casual and repeated references to the “chemical experimentation” that is being conducted on you against your will. Trotting out the grandaddy of shoddy, anti-science anti-GMO arguments — that GMOs are untested, dangerous, and surreptitiously forced upon unwitting consumers and farmers as a part of a diabolical experiment — is so completely absent any scientific basis as to be “not even wrong.”

    If you want to be dismissive of something while pretending to be equanimous or centrist on the subject (“I’m just saying what I heard,” etc), it is best to leave your tinfoil hat at home. If you really think you have “mixed” or “open-minded” feelings about GMOs, then you should stop arguing against them. It’s silly and embarrassing. You should probably reexamine your feelings to see how you really feel, because what you claim is your mind on the matter is in serious discord with your words.

  46. sonicon 30 Jan 2015 at 12:40 pm

    jsterritt-
    The article I gave said that the researchers felt they had to hide the fact they were using GMOs because the people were ‘too sensitive’ about them.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/17/223382375/golden-rice-study-violated-ethical-rules-tufts-says

    So the researchers withheld the information, violating the ethics codes and now the researchers have been sacked and the paper they produced might be retracted.

    From this I get that the researchers felt they would not have been able to do the experiment if they had been honest and forth coming about what they were feeding the children.
    That’s why I think the people don’t want the stuff.

    You give me no reason to question that analysis.

    Of course you can just call me a liar because you find it hard to believe I’m not a true believer one way other the other.

    You are an ideologue who only deals with other ideologues on this topic is what I understand from that.

  47. jsterritton 30 Jan 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Sonic…

    You worked backwards from a statement by the authors of an ethically flawed study to arrive at “people don’t want the stuff”?! Not only is that the most preposterous pretzel of tortured logic I’ve ever encountered, it’s gotta be some sort of record-breaker for stuffing words into other people’s mouths.

    Setting aside that the statements of embattled study authors are a dubious place to go fact-gathering, here’s what happened. The lead researcher, in defense of her actions, made the claim that some people might have been “too sensitive” about GMOs due to influence of anti-GM fear- and rumor-mongering (propaganda). So from one scientist saying she thought some of the Hunan province study subjects might be unduly influenced by anti-GM sentiment and therefore decline to participate in a scientific study you have extrapolated that hundreds of millions of undernourished and impoverished people throughout the world have spoken with a single voice to decline lifesaving and nourishing food. Or in your words: “they don’t want the stuff.”

    Mind-boggling. All you have shown is that because of ideology certain people do not want GMOs, no matter how beneficial. You have amplified — and joined yours with — a minority of voices to drown out and shout down reality, even if it means speaking for millions with no authority.

  48. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2015 at 1:55 am

    sonic,

    “I think I’m communicating just fine”
    Your communcating skills are abominable.

    “I admit I’m less than 100% gun-ho about GMOs.
    Do you want me to quote you again? (Of course 0% is less than 100% so I guess you win)

    “I discuss a real problem that actually exists. This is unacceptable to some”
    If that is ALL you are doing then you have communicated that abominably.

    ——————————–

    Now this:

    “And it becomes obvious who the ideologues are.
    The US Department of Agriculture uses the term ‘contaminate’–
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/16/us-usa-alfalfa-gmo-idUSBRE98F0GE20130916?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

    Which brings up another criticism…
    You never seem to understand and you always seem to misinterpret what is contained within the links you supply to support your view. It’s so damn predictable that I rarely bother to click anymore. This time I did, and I’ll invite you to read that article again, because this is what it actually says:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is evaluating whether or not to take action in the case of a Washington state farmer whose alfalfa crop was contaminated with a genetically modified trait that some export customers will not accept, a spokesman said on Monday.

    Do you understand what is going on here? They are reporting what the spokesman for the USDA said, not what he actually said. This is not a direct quote from the spokesman from the USDA. They are reporting what he said in their own words. They are, in fact, putting the word “contaminate” into his mouth. Please tell me you understand the difference.
    The following is the only direct quote from that USDA spokesman in the whole article:

    “We’re still in discussion with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to determine what if any actions are warranted, what our next steps will be”

    Not a single mention of the word “contaminate”.
    Please also read the following 25 page report by the USDA in their own words on this subject:

    http://www.usda.gov/documents/ac21_report-enhancing-coexistence.pdf

    I challenge you to report any mention of the word “contaminate” in that 25 page report. In fact, they seem to be going out of their way to avoid using that word. Even in the comment section, there are only three committee members who use the word “contaminate”: the only dissenter; an assenter who does so with “serious reluctance”; and one who mentions it once in reference to the opinions organic farmers.
    And, even then, it would not defend your use of that word in the context of your post.

    “The fact you would have a problem with the exactly correct word to use is symptomatic of your ideological bias in this case, I believe.”

    Well, there we go then…correct word? No. Symptomatic of your ideological bias? Yes.

    ——————–

    Definitions of “contaminate”:

    “make (something) impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance”
    “to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.”

    Synonyms: pollute, infect, stain, corrupt, taint, sully, defile, adulterate, befoul, soil

  49. BillyJoe7on 31 Jan 2015 at 1:57 am

    QUOTE FUNCTION FAIL: TRY AGAIN:

    sonic,

    “I think I’m communicating just fine”
    Your communcating skills are abominable.

    “I admit I’m less than 100% gun-ho about GMOs.
    Do you want me to quote you again? (Of course 0% is less than 100% so I guess you win)

    “I discuss a real problem that actually exists. This is unacceptable to some”
    If that is ALL you are doing then you have communicated that abominably.

    ——————————–

    Now this:

    “And it becomes obvious who the ideologues are.
    The US Department of Agriculture uses the term ‘contaminate’–
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/16/us-usa-alfalfa-gmo-idUSBRE98F0GE20130916?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

    Which brings up another criticism…
    You never seem to understand and you always seem to misinterpret what is contained within the links you supply to support your view. It’s so damn predictable that I rarely bother to click anymore. This time I did, and I’ll invite you to read that article again, because this is what it actually says:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is evaluating whether or not to take action in the case of a Washington state farmer whose alfalfa crop was contaminated with a genetically modified trait that some export customers will not accept, a spokesman said on Monday.

    Do you understand what is going on here? They are reporting what the spokesman for the USDA said, not what he actually said. This is not a direct quote from the spokesman from the USDA. They are reporting what he said in their own words. They are, in fact, putting the word “contaminate” into his mouth. Please tell me you understand the difference.
    The following is the only direct quote from that USDA spokesman in the whole article:

    “We’re still in discussion with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to determine what if any actions are warranted, what our next steps will be”

    Not a single mention of the word “contaminate”.
    Please also read the following 25 page report by the USDA in their own words on this subject:

    http://www.usda.gov/documents/ac21_report-enhancing-coexistence.pdf

    I challenge you to report any mention of the word “contaminate” in that 25 page report. In fact, they seem to be going out of their way to avoid using that word. Even in the comment section, there are only three committee members who use the word “contaminate”: the only dissenter; an assenter who does so with “serious reluctance”; and one who mentions it once in reference to the opinions organic farmers.
    And, even then, it would not defend your use of that word in the context of your post.

    “The fact you would have a problem with the exactly correct word to use is symptomatic of your ideological bias in this case, I believe.”

    Well, there we go then…correct word? No. Symptomatic of your ideological bias? Yes.

    ——————–

    Definitions of “contaminate”:

    “make (something) impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance”
    “to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.”

    Synonyms: pollute, infect, stain, corrupt, taint, sully, defile, adulterate, befoul, soil

  50. RickKon 31 Jan 2015 at 7:54 am

    BJ7

    I know it’s frustrating, but I think you’re just wasting your valuable time and effort. It seems to me that he simply doesn’t CARE that he’s inaccurate. It doesn’t bother him one bit if he says something that is objectively false. Being logically consistent and factually correct carries no value with him. He takes no pride in being right, and feels no shame at being wrong. He just wants a place where people will listen to him emote.

  51. Teaseron 31 Jan 2015 at 4:04 pm

    The GMO paradigm is killing the fabric of life on earth. Natural systems are breaking down due to lack of scientific analysis from the very beginning. Stop kidding yourselves.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/25/science/la-sci-sn-monarch-butterfly-roundup-20140224

  52. Willyon 31 Jan 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Good comments from Matt Ridley: http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/gm-crops-the-scientific-argument's-over.aspx.

  53. jsterritton 31 Jan 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Teaser…

    The great thing about being on the science-based side of an issue is that you don’t have to kid (or otherwise trick) yourself into believing in things that are not demonstrably true. Wouldn’t the person making vague and unsupported claims about “natural systems breaking down” due to the “GMO paradigm” with cherry-picks and doom-crying be better said to be kidding her/himself? I think so.

    If you read the actual study about milkweed loss [1] you will discover some interesting facts. First, that monarchs are not being threatened by GMOs, but by milkweed loss. This loss can be attributed to a number of factors. The authors investigate increased glyphosate use as one of these. Their conclusion? That glyphosate might be killing milkweed in farmers’ fields, leading to decreased monarch populations. I am familiar with the chain of logic that links popular GM crops with decreased monarch populations. I am also familiar enough with farming practices to know that farmers killing weeds in their fields is part of agriculture.

    “Milkweed is after all a weed, and since weeds decrease yield, farmers always have and always will fight them. Most of the world is fed via conventional farming whose aim is to maximize efficiency and output. It’s unfortunate, but there really isn’t much room for biodiversity in conventional farming, especially for plants without a clear economic value like milkweed.” [2]

    As the very article you linked to explains [3], Monarch conservation is important and faces challenges like drought and urbanization. Encouraging milkweed growth areas outside of agriculture fields and curbing use of milkweed-killing herbicides when practical and safe are ways to approach the problem with solutions, as opposed to blaming agriculture technology and setting the bar using a Nirvana fallacy.

    Bad cherry-pick, worse anti-GMO argument.

    ________
    [1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2012.00196.x/abstract
    [2] http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/03/25/monsanto-v-monarch-butterflies/
    [3] http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/25/science/la-sci-sn-monarch-butterfly-roundup-20140224

  54. Teaseron 31 Jan 2015 at 11:56 pm

    “The media continues to spew the typical lies. The fact is that never once has anyone actually tried to deliver “golden rice” anywhere and been prevented from doing so by citizen action. That’s because the product doesn’t exist in deployable form. Researchers continue to struggle to breed an indica variety of the product. Any phony regulatory struggle hasn’t even begun yet, as the technical problems of the project remain insurmountable. Yet we keep being told by professional liars that the US government and the GMO cartel, the most powerful government and one of the most powerful corporate oligopoly sectors on earth, are being thwarted by “powerful forces”. When I ponder the flimsiness and sheer idiocy of the lies GMO proponents tell, I don’t know what’s greater, these people’s moral depravity or their intellectual stupidity.”

  55. BillyJoe7on 01 Feb 2015 at 12:37 am

    Teaser,

    Nice quote.
    Seems you let someone called Volatility do your thinking and posting for you.

    https://attempter.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/make-it-up-on-propaganda-volume-the-golden-rice-hoax-marches-on/

    No comments allowed on that blog.

    In the mean time jsterritt has done you the courtesy of a reply to your link.
    Please return the courtesy.

  56. Teaseron 01 Feb 2015 at 1:42 am

    BJ7 the entry was all in quotes. I should have noted it was a quote. Thanks for telling me where I took the quote from…….you would all hate that blog.

    GMO science is fraud. This article discusses how fraud occurs in science. The section I have quoted here is appropriate to how GMO science could appear or be “accepted” as valid science.

    http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/92prom.html#fn16

    “Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to detect most cases of illegitimate manipulation of data. According to one provocative assessment [14], science is ruled by an oligarchy of mediocrity: in the chaos of fashionable but pointless research done by less-than-competent researchers, cheating can escape unnoticed.

    Also tolerated are biased viewpoints, including those linked to powerful vested interests. Many scientists are employed by or receive research funds from companies or government bodies, and both expect and are expected to come up only with results useful to those bodies. Scientists receiving money from chemical companies to study pesticides seldom draw attention to the limitations or dangers of pesticides: they simply do studies within a framework which assumes that using pesticides is the appropriate thing to do. Physicists working on nuclear weapons design do not stray outside their narrow task. Engineers employed by automobile companies do not propose studies looking for safety problems or alternatives to the car [15].

    It could be said that the viewpoints of most scientists are not so much biased as limited: they are willing to do narrow research work whose context is set by the powerful patrons of science. The bias comes from the context, not from the conscious intent of the scientist. In any case, this sort of bias is standard practice, or at worst tolerated. Researchers who are funded by the tobacco industry to study the health effects of cigarettes may be frowned upon, but they are not drummed out of science for being corrupt.

    The flip side of bias built into the structure of science is suppression of dissent. The few scientists who speak out against dominant interests — such as against pesticides, nuclear power or automobile design — often come under severe attack. They may have their reputations smeared, be demoted, be transferred, have their publications blocked, be dismissed, or be blacklisted [16].

    It can be argued that there is bias in all scientific research. Whether bias is seen as a problem depends on what the bias is. Biases that are no threat to powerful interests are treated as standard or tolerated. Biases that do threaten powerful interests are, often enough, attacked with full fury.”

  57. sonicon 01 Feb 2015 at 6:34 am

    BillyJoe7-
    Thank- you for pointing out the error I made about the USDA man using the word ‘contamination’. You are right– he probably wouldn’t use that word.
    It seems there is some controversy about the use of this word- here is what I see thus far:

    The words ‘contaminated and contamination’ are used to describe GMO mixing with non-GMO by reporters, farmers, lawyers, judges, anti- GMO promoters, educators and GMO producers.

    Contaminate (as defined by Merriam-Webster) = “To make (something) dangerous, dirty, or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it.”

    Some people use the word ‘contamination’ because they think GMOs are dangerous and harmful.
    But GMO’s are not safe or dangerous, each plant is unique.

    This would be an incorrect usage of the word unless there was something dangerous about the specific strain under discussion.

    The GMO maker BASF uses the term ‘GMO contamination’ to refer to a mixing of a non-approved GMO rice with their approved non-GMO rice.
    http://agproducts.basf.us/news-room/press-releases/archived-press-releases/basf-cooperates-with-usda-on-cl131-rice.html

    In this case they probably mean the food is no longer ‘pure’ in the sense that it hasn’t all been approved for human consumption and this is less desirable than rice that is approved for human consumption.

    Contamination is a correct word in that case.

    A way ‘contaminate’ is used by some educators, farmers and their lawyers (and eventually the judges)…
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/agf-fact/0149.html

    Non-GMO is made impure by introducing GMO.
    GMO is undesirable to many users who pay more for the non-GMO.
    If one intends to grow for the non-GMO market, then having GMO in the product can lead to rejection of order, leading to loss of income- demonstrating the product has become undesirable.

    In this case ‘contamination’ is a correct usage as it is the GMO itself that makes the product impure and causes it to be undesirable.

    In the case of the article I linked to, this is the complaint– that the GMO had made the ‘non-GMO’ alfalfa impure and therefore undesirable.
    I’m not sure why the USDA person wouldn’t use the term ‘contamination’ because the word correctly describes the situation but I’m guessing the reluctance to use the word has to do with the ‘dangerous’ and ‘dirty’ part of the definition.
    Perhaps it is time to change this usage–

    http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/03/19/a-war-of-words-on-contamination/

    Certainly I would agree to this sentiment-
    Writers who aim to stick to the science behind the GMO debate are not off the hook, according to Cook. “A myth seems to have developed in arguments for GM that language is being used objectively and scientifically when it is not. At the heart of what purports to be a scientific debate we find imprecisely defined terms, evaluative words and constant slippage from scientific discourse into other realms.”
    Coming up with relatively neutral language and precise definitions would be a good first step toward a clearer conversation. In the meantime, when participating in the GMO debate it’s important to keep in mind Cook’s words: “Almost any word that you choose has some sort of emotional connotation.”

    What do you know about this situation with the word usage?

  58. sonicon 01 Feb 2015 at 6:35 am

    RickK-
    I do say things that are incorrect. I am correctable- sometimes.
    Is there a specific thing I said that was incorrect you would like to point out?

  59. jsterritton 01 Feb 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Teaser…

    Kindly stop copy/pasting other people’s rhetoric. It is bad form in this or any comments section. Perhaps you have no original thoughts to contribute, so you retail those of others.

    I do like your argument, though: that since you don’t like the science, the science must be being done wrong. See Dr Novella’s most recent post [1] — it speaks directly to this kind of (yawn) conspiracy thinking. Kicking at what you think are the cornerstones of “scientific elitism” (using someone else’s words I might add) is vapid conspiracy theory — probably the most intellectually lazy and dishonest line of argument there is.

    _______
    [1] http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-gap-between-public-and-scientific-opinion/

  60. jsterritton 01 Feb 2015 at 1:11 pm

    A NYTimes piece making the rounds [1] has some illustrative gems from non-vaccinating parents. It’s a trite article, but one that makes up for much of the false balance that has flawed reporting on the issue. Yes, there is the inevitable quote from Barbara Loe Fisher. But there are also candid side-by-side statements from pediatricians and non-vaccinating parents that highlight the chasm of authority that exists between the expertise of a professional and the ill-considered judgement of lay parents.

    “Kelly McMenimen of Marin County, Calif., said she decided not to vaccinate her son Tobias, saying she did not want “so many toxins” entering his body.”

    “She considered a tetanus shot after he cut himself on a wire fence but decided against it: “He has such a strong immune system.””

    It goes to show how strongly fear motivates parents. Fear coupled with inaction provides a path of least resistance and the lowest bar to entry. For many, it is easier to be paralyzed by fear that to act in accordance with best information. Ms McMenimen seems to deny even the possibility that her son, Tobias, could be at risk: “he has such a strong immune system.”

    This is magical and wishful thinking. Ms McMenimen is assuming her son’s continued good health based on the mere fact that he isn’t dead. From that, she is extrapolating an almost superhuman ability to combat infection and remain healthy (although she worries, incongruously, about “toxins” in vaccines). She makes healthcare decisions about her son based on the false assumption that he is invulnerable. The current measles outbreak is a dangerous lesson in the consequences of this kind of lazy, magical thinking.

    ________
    [1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/vaccine-critics-turn-defensive-over-measles.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

  61. jsterritton 01 Feb 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Oops. Wrong post!

  62. RickKon 01 Feb 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Teaser said: “The GMO paradigm is killing the fabric of life on earth. ”

    Unless you’re living as a hunter/gatherer in the woods, the vast majority of the food you eat has had its genetics modified by human activity – through controlled breeding (including exploitation and propagation of all manner of random mutations), through chemical- or radiation-induced mutagenic breeding, or through the careful manipulation of specific genes.

    Dial down your ideologically-driven hyperbole and join the real world. If anything is killing the fabric of life on Earth, it is the processes and chemicals used to make things like the computer you’re using to fuel your anti-GMO hysteria. Yet I don’t see the anti-GMO crowd giving up plastic or technology any time soon.

  63. jsterritton 01 Feb 2015 at 8:45 pm

    @RickK

    “I don’t see the anti-GMO crowd giving up plastic or technology any time soon.”

    Hmmmm. It does seem that the “deep-green” precautionary folks single out very convenient targets for their ire. By this I mean the familiar phenomenon of first-world people with first-world problems complaining about things that are not demonstrably harmful — things like GMOs and BPA. There is still lead and asbestos, not to mention CO2 and gun violence. But it’s GMOs that attract outsized, adrenalized, and unfounded criticism like “killing the fabric of life on Earth.” In 30 years, GMOs have yet to cause a tummy ache, BPA and glyphosate have enviable health and safety records, ticks don’t cause chronic illness, and vaccines save untold millions of lives. But with our comfortable homes and Whole Foods shopping choices, objecting to things the middle-class can comfortably do without — by paying more for foods only rumored to be healthier, substituting expensive glass for cheaper can liners, demanding unspecified (yet somehow better) herbicides, and hiding in the herd for immunity — has proved to be a popular alternative to not complaining at all. Or complaining about things that matter.

    Surely, many anti-GMO people are gravely concerned about real threats as well. It is just that NIMBYism and its kissing cousin “things that don’t directly affect me and my family” are pointlessly wasting so many calories of energy that there can’t be too many left over for addressing the real problems facing our world.

  64. Teaseron 01 Feb 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Jsterrit, you are a good foot soldier. You forgot to add second hand smoke to your list. Industry assured the public it was harmless just like the GMO paradigm is sold. It’s the same playbook.

  65. jsterritton 02 Feb 2015 at 12:08 am

    Teaser…

    A consensus of independent research shows GMO safety to confidence levels into the vanishing decimal places of uncertainty. That’s independent research, not industry. Likening GMO safety claims to industry claims about second-hand smoke doesn’t hold up on the numbers or the authority. You’re just trying to poison the well by drawing false analogies.

    Calling me a foot soldier is so typical: the Monsanto shill gambit. Please see my comment above about those with the authority of strong science (in this case consensus science), not having to “kid” ourselves with arguments from conspiracy or false analogies. That losing game is for zealots like you, because it’s all you have: pretend and make-believe.

    Shame on you for your fact-averse proselytizing in this comment thread. NeuroLogica is a place for critical thinkers to examine logic- and science-based answers to timely questions, not copy/paste drivel from ancient blog ramblings or take worthless, dumbass, anti-science pot-shots like yours with no basis in fact or evidence whatsoever. Your arguments are non-existent and your manner boorish. You’re a drive-by hater, nothing more (because you bring nothing more to the discussion).

    I bet you don’t even care about the butterflies at all.

  66. BillyJoe7on 02 Feb 2015 at 5:20 am

    sonic,

    You start your post by acknowledging (after I pointed it out) that the USDF spokesman did not actually use the word “contaminate” (as implied in your post) and probably would not have done so (presumably after reading the USDF report I provided for you and finding not a single use of that word in the whole 25 pages of that report).

    That’s all well and good.
    But then you do exactly the same thing again!…

    “The GMO maker BASF uses the term ‘GMO contamination’ to refer to a mixing of a non-approved GMO rice with their approved non-GMO rice.
    http://agproducts.basf.us/news-room/press-releases/archived-press-releases/basf-cooperates-with-usda-on-cl131-rice.html

    No, the BSAF did not use the term “GMO contamination”. The reporter reports that’s what the BASF said. But, again, there is no direct quote from the BASF that includes the word “contaminate”. Here is the only direct quote from the BSAF in the article:

    “BASF notified the USDA immediately after becoming aware of the laboratory findings and we continue to work cooperatively with USDA on this situation.BASF is steadfastly working to advance a clear and viable production environment for rice producers now and in future growing seasons.”

    That’s it.

    Not only that but the article also does not use the word “non-approved” as implied in your post. The word used is “de-regulated” referring to the two varieties of GM found in BASF non-GM rice. In fact it says “both of which are deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption”. The exact opposite of what is implied by “non-approved”.

    As it turns out, their non-GM rice actually tested negative for these two GM varieties, and now they’re looking for “an unidentified and possibly regulated GM event”. “Regulated” not “non-approved”.

    And this is from a company which produces non-GM food!

    “In this case they probably mean the food is no longer ‘pure’ in the sense that it hasn’t all been approved for human consumption and this is less desirable than rice that is approved for human consumption”

    No, no, and no.

    “Contamination is a correct word in that case”

    And still no.

    I’m sorry, sonic, but I did not read the rest of your post.
    How can you possibly understand anything that is written if you can’t even read what is written.

  67. BillyJoe7on 02 Feb 2015 at 5:35 am

    DAMN QUOTE FUNCTION FAIL. TRY AGAIN:

    sonic,

    You start your post by acknowledging (after I pointed it out) that the USDF spokesman did not actually use the word “contaminate” (as implied in your post) and probably would not have done so (presumably after reading the USDF report I provided for you and finding not a single use of that word in the whole 25 pages of that report).

    That’s all well and good.
    But then you do exactly the same thing again!…

    “The GMO maker BASF uses the term ‘GMO contamination’ to refer to a mixing of a non-approved GMO rice with their approved non-GMO rice.
    http://agproducts.basf.us/news-room/press-releases/archived-press-releases/basf-cooperates-with-usda-on-cl131-rice.html

    No, the BSAF did not use the term “GMO contamination”. The reporter reports that’s what the BASF said. But, again, there is no direct quote from the BASF that includes the word “contaminate”. Here is the only direct quote from the BSAF in the article:

    “BASF notified the USDA immediately after becoming aware of the laboratory findings and we continue to work cooperatively with USDA on this situation.BASF is steadfastly working to advance a clear and viable production environment for rice producers now and in future growing seasons.”

    That’s it.

    Not only that but the article also does not use the word “non-approved” as implied in your post. The word used is “de-regulated” referring to the two varieties of GM found in BASF non-GM rice. In fact it says “both of which are deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption”. The exact opposite of what is implied by “non-approved”.

    As it turns out, their non-GM rice actually tested negative for these two GM varieties, and now they’re looking for “an unidentified and possibly regulated GM event”. “Regulated” not “non-approved”.

    And this is from a company which produces non-GM food!

    “In this case they probably mean the food is no longer ‘pure’ in the sense that it hasn’t all been approved for human consumption and this is less desirable than rice that is approved for human consumption”

    No, no, and no.

    “Contamination is a correct word in that case”

    And still no.

    I’m sorry, sonic, but I did not read the rest of your post.
    How can you possibly understand anything that is written if you can’t even read what is written.

  68. sonicon 02 Feb 2015 at 11:08 am

    BillyJoe7-
    You are mistaken about the BASF document.
    It is from the company’s Communications Manager, not a reporter.

    To confirm this usage I checked the annual report from Bayer-
    http://www.annualreport2013.bayer.com/en/legal-risks.aspx

    “…One of the remaining cases was brought by BASF to recover damages allegedly resulting from the contamination of its Clearfield 131 rice variety. …”

    But we argue over such a small[point to avoid the larger-

    It’s become clear to me that the USDA avoids the term ‘contamination’ when it comes to GMO- all though I was able to find this-
    http://www.usda.gov/documents/BIOTECHNOLOGY.pdf
    where they state-
    “Many requested strict liability for GMO contamination from GMO patent holders and manufacturers (i.e., genetic drift) to protect against economic losses because of overseas markets rejecting these GMO crops.”

    It seems the reporters and educators and farmers and lawyers and judges use the term ‘contamination’ to describe the mixing of GMO with non-GMO when non-GMO has been specified as desirable and GMO has been specified as not acceptable by the customer in a business transaction. This is an appropriate use of the term.

    It’s still not clear why the regulators would have any problem with that usage– all though I do think it is possible to mix GMO with non-GMO and not have it ‘contamination’.
    It just depends on what the end user wants.

    Sound about right?

  69. BillyJoe7on 03 Feb 2015 at 5:32 am

    sonic,

    You could be right on that one, though I’m not totally convinced. The press release you linked to issues out of Research Triangle Park (RTP). It appears that BASF is one of 180 companies based at RTP, so I guess it seems reasonable to conclude, though not necessarily the case, that the press release did originate from BASF via RTP. But the point stands that the actual quoted bit contains not a mention of the word “contaminate”.

    Remember, also, that BASF produces non-GM food and associated technologies. Their bias would actually be towards using the word “contaminate”.

    Interestingly, your second source says this:

    Several thousand plaintiffs have sued a number of Bayer Group companies before U.S. federal and state courts in connection with genetically modified rice. Plaintiffs have alleged that they suffered economic losses after traces of genetically modified rice were identified in samples of conventional long-grain rice grown in the U.S.”

    And…

    “One of the remaining cases was brought by BASF to recover damages allegedly resulting from the contamination of its Clearfield 131 rice variety”

    So, if you were to believe what is written here, you could conclude that several thousand plaintiffs chose to say that traces of GM rice “were identified in” samples of conventional long-grain rice, and that only one chose to say that their rice was “contaminated” by GM rice.

    Several thousands versus only one.
    Does that mean I win?

    On the other hand, you have not explained why you chose to use the word “non-approved” when your linked source clearly states “deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption”, which is almost the exact opposite.
    Your Freudian slip showing, sonic?

    And of course you were able to find an instance where USDA used the word “contaminate”, nevermind that they were referring to non-GM rice producers requesting liability for GM rice producers of “contaminating” their rice with GM rice.

    “Sound about right?”

    I found a slice of pear in my tin of peach slices.
    You found a slice of pear contaminating your tin of peach slices.
    Sound about right?

  70. sonicon 03 Feb 2015 at 9:20 am

    BillyJoe7-
    OK– you might not like how it starts, but it gets funny by the end– keep reading (way too much coffee…)

    I’m guessing you understand the term ‘contamination’ refers to GMO’s showing up in products intended to be GMO-free. And I’m guessing you agree that is a correct usage of the term.

    There might be better words– what do you suggest?

    I’m thinking the USDA is reluctant to use the term ‘contamination’ because of the ‘dangerous’ aspect of the word.

    But GMO’s are not dangerous or safe.
    Each GMO is it’s own product. Some will be safe, some not- just like other plants.

    I fall into ‘business mode’-

    I think there will be a market for GMO- free for some years to come. I notice some parts of the world seem to want to avoid for now, some others want to go head first as fast as possible, but I think there will be a sizable population willing to pay extra to avoid for years to come.

    I haven’t noticed a market for GMO-only food.
    If there were one, then the non-GMO would contaminate the GMO only food, if they got mixed.

    I can see the headlines —
    Non-GMOs Contaminate Farmers Apple Orchard

    It is hard to determine the full extent of the contamination- apparently different trees had differing amounts of contamination from the pre-engineered genetic materials.
    The farmer wanted to sue the owner of the pre-engineered tree- ‘but they’ll just blame the wind,’ he complained bitterly.
    ‘We can’t touch anything that’s been contaminated to that extent,’ the supermarket buyer said after puking his guts out at the very thought of having to ingest something as foul as a pre-genetic engineered food stuff.
    ‘I’m so glad they have to clearly label any food that has any pre-engineering DNA in it. I can’t believe anyone would subject themselves to that stuff. In this day and age. I can’t imagine,’ said the government agent.
    Fortunately the apples have been destroyed before further contamination could occur, so there is no danger to the public.

    I wonder what year it will be when a story like that appears… 🙂

  71. jsterritton 03 Feb 2015 at 10:38 am

    Sonic & BJ7

    I hate to chime in with this, because I find the language objectionable, too (also I’ve been quietly enjoying your back-and-forth on the semiotics of GMO verbiage). Last week’s Nature leads off with an editorial about possible GMO modification a la Jurassic Park — i.e., engineer the organisms to rely on artificial sources of crucial amino acids. The editorial uses all kinds of irresponsible language: referring to “GMO pollution,” “contamination,” and my favorite likening of GMOs to monsters/attack dogs, “if GM cannot be kept in its box, then can it be kept on a leash?” Why not just call them Frankenfoods, O preeminent British science journal?

    I really do think the author was being facetious and having a little fun with the research (in bacteria) that was being referenced and the comparison of GMOs to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (which, strangely, the editorial doesn’t mention directly, although every other reporter on this topic has, including our host, Dr Novella). The news item in the same issue is similarly playful with its language (e.g., phrases about GMOs “escaping”), but concentrates more on the scientific benefits of “containment” for real-world reasons, like working in the lab and advances in “the biological production of drugs or fuels.”

    The research papers themselves are soberly devoid of any such questionable follies, speaking instead to the obvious benefits of “genetic isolation and intrinsic biocontainment” that would “secure closed systems” and “enable safe applications of GMOs in open systems.” [1]

    _____
    [1] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature14095.html

  72. BillyJoe7on 04 Feb 2015 at 6:03 am

    sonic,

    “I’m guessing you understand the term ‘contamination’ refers to GMO’s showing up in products intended to be GMO-free. And I’m guessing you agree that is a correct usage of the term”

    Even though I’ve been saying the exact opposite through this entire exchange.

    “There might be better words– what do you suggest?”

    You’re incredible, sonic.
    They’ve been right there in the articles you’ve linked to.
    And right in front of your nose in my last post:
    “traces of genetically modified rice contaminated were identified in samples of conventional long-grain rice”
    “You found a slice of pear contaminating in your tin of peach slices.

    “GMO’s are not dangerous or safe”

    Scientists have tested them and governments have regulated them.
    They are safe to a very high degree of confidence.

    “I think there will be a sizable population willing to pay extra to avoid for years to come”

    As long as there is a profit to be made, there will always be a market supplying the unnecessary to the scientifically illiterate.

    “I haven’t noticed a market for GMO-only food.
    If there were one, then the non-GMO would contaminate the GMO only food, if they got mixed”

    Why would there be?
    You’re just thinking like an anti-GM freak.
    The scientifically literate who support GM food are not actually against non-GM food. They support GM food as another way to safely feed the human inhabitants of this world.

    And I’ll take this opportunity to remind you once again that you have still not explained why you chose to use the word “non-approved” when your linked source clearly states “deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption”.

  73. BillyJoe7on 04 Feb 2015 at 6:11 am

    jsterritt,

    “I’ve been quietly enjoying your back-and-forth on the semiotics of GMO verbiage”

    Well, at least those exchanges have been of benefit to someone. (:

  74. Bruceon 04 Feb 2015 at 6:29 am

    BJ7,

    I will echo jsterritt’s sentiment. As much as I learn about critical thinking and the core issues from the original post, regular contributors such a you keep me coming back too, especially when it comes to responses to some of the other regular commenters. Your effort is not wasted.

  75. jsterritton 04 Feb 2015 at 12:10 pm

    @sonic

    “GMO’s are not dangerous or safe.”

    They are safe. The only way to support a claim that they are not safe — let alone dangerous — is to invent hypothetical GMOs and then put them through a ringer of tortured logic and strained credulity. Since you like nit-picking about language so much, wouldn’t it be reasonable for a person reading the statement “GMOs are safe” to assume the statement is about known GMOs, existing GMOs, GMOs that have been tested for safety, such that a claim of safety could be made?

    The claim “GMOs are not safe” is made all the time. But when you read the fine print, you realize that statement is being made with extreme bias, and presumes that any degree of uncertainty — even into vanishing decimal places — is assumed to be where danger lurks (notice the uncertainty of science never shelters something benign or beneficial — only the most horrific demons an ideologue can conjure live there).

    “GMOs are not safe” is a claim supported by cherry-picking and science-denial.

    “GMOs are safe” has the authority of actual safety testing, not to mention scientific consensus.

    There is no equivalence, much as you’d like there to be.

  76. BillyJoe7on 04 Feb 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks, Bruce, but I don’t always feel up to the task and gladly step aside when those more knowledgeable than myself enter the fray. Failing that, I feel an obligation to defend science, as best I can, against those who, wilfully or otherwise, don’t understand it and spread misinformation as a result.

  77. Teaseron 04 Feb 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I can tell who said this exactly in the comments above. I believe it was sonic being quoted.

    “I haven’t noticed a market for GMO-only food.
    If there were one, then the non-GMO would contaminate the GMO only food, if they got mixed”

    On Superbowl Sunday……..unless you were eating Organic Certified Non-GMO snacks then basically everything you ate was GMO.

    All the advertisment for food during the game, all the restaurants advertised, all the food the people at the game were eating. They were all GMO.

    GMO absorbed the market. GMO is the market.

  78. jsterritton 04 Feb 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Teaser…

    You are showcasing your ignorance. Although most processed foods in the US contain GM ingredients, almost NO whole foods do. There is no GMO wheat. No GMO potatoes. No GMO meat, chicken, fish. Only a couple of vegetables and a single fruit cultivar are GM — not that this would much affect Superbowl snacking. So unless you saw a game dominated by papaya and squash advertising, or are asserting that all food is made of soybeans, corn, and sugar beets, you are making grandiose — and wholly false — claims about the ubiquity of GM foods. You should educate yourself before presuming to “educate” others.

    What you probably meant to say was something like this:

    “All the advertisment for [corn] during the game, all the [corn] advertised, all the [corn] the people at the game were eating. The [corn] was all GMO.”

  79. Teaseron 04 Feb 2015 at 6:52 pm

    “If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99 percent of Americans do, what you are is “corn.”

    http://www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/we-are-what-we-eat

    Corn and soy, in some form, is in practically all commercially produced foods. From meat to beer. From salads to chips. Therefore GMO is a component of these foods.

    Corn, soy and canola oil are present in most commercially prepared foods. All GMO

    Cattle, pigs and chicken are fed corn and soy. ALL GMO

    Farm raised fish are fed corn, soy, wheat. ALL GMO (minus wheat, unless its Oregon wheat!)

    If you like to eat sweet food you are probably eating HFCS. ALL GMO.

    Safe to assume all this corn and soy is GMO.
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx

  80. jsterritton 04 Feb 2015 at 10:55 pm

    @Teaser

    “Cattle, pigs and chicken are fed corn and soy. ALL GMO”

    Please explain how GMO feed is people food. It’s dummies like you that give this GMO business a bad name.

    All you are doing is begging the question that GMOs are bad/inferior/unsafe. They aren’t. Every one of the food ingredients you rattle off is nutritionally equivalent (and chemically identical) to its non-GM counterpart.

    Straw man fail.

  81. Ekkoon 04 Feb 2015 at 11:56 pm

    @jsterritt
    Because clearly if I eat a GMO apple, I become a GMO human. Don’t you know how this stuff works dude? /s

  82. sonicon 05 Feb 2015 at 10:53 am

    jsterritt-
    I read the editorial “Kept on a leash”
    Oh my, the words pollution and contamination in a Nature editorial!!
    Of course the concerns are ‘irrational’ and based on ‘misguided’ opinion so I guess all is well as the writer got his digs in there as well.

    I wonder- what is it about ’round up ready’ that makes people think the technology needs to be spread to every corner of the earth immediately?
    Why do I want anyone growing round up ready?

    I’m curious what you think about those things.

  83. sonicon 05 Feb 2015 at 10:53 am

    BillyJoe7-
    The reason that the word ‘contamination’ is used by farmers, lawyers, judges, educators, reporters…
    If a customer specifies he wants a product GMO-free, then if a GMO is in the product, that GMO is an impurity. Due to that impurity, the product becomes undesirable. This situation– an impurity causing a product to become undesirable is defined as ‘contamination’ by Webster’s.

    I will grant you there are less emotionally charged words that might describe the situation as well, but now that is is clear how the word is being used, it is also clear that the word is v=being used properly. I hope we can move on.

    You seem to suggest it is not possible to make a GMO that wouldn’t be safe to eat.
    Do you think it is possible to make a poisonous GMO?

    If golden rice, or something like it, ever becomes a reality, then people would want that and they would want the pure gmo.
    Then we would have people wanting gmo only rice- they might even ask for it by name.

    Here is a link to why I said the rice had not been approved-
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2007/10/content/printable/RiceReport10-2007.pdf
    You will note-
    the incident occurred in the summer of 2006, APHIS deregulated LLRICE601 in November 2006.
    I was thinking the problem with the rice might have been in the fact it had yet to be deregulated as opposed to the fact it was a GMO.

    Anyway– we can agree that the Bayer annual report and BASF both use the term ‘contamination’ to describe the event.

  84. jsterritton 05 Feb 2015 at 1:57 pm

    @sonic

    “What is it about ’round up ready’ that makes people think the technology needs to be spread to every corner of the earth immediately?”

    Why are anti-GMO talking points so all over the place? Where’s the logical consistency? Why the constant JAQing and hairsplitting? Who shows up at a golden rice discussion to highjack it with a glyphosate straw man?

    So many questions, sonic, and so little regard for the answers.

  85. BillyJoe7on 05 Feb 2015 at 3:26 pm

    sonic,

    I am not interested in reading another link.
    The point is that you linked to an article and your comment on that article included the word “non-approved” in reference to the GM rice in question. But when I read your linked article it actually said “deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption”.
    You have still not explained why you misrepresented the article you linked to.

    On the other question, I will simply reiterate what I’ve already said: If you want to say that your tin of peaches has been contaminated by a slice of pear, well then go right ahead, but excuse me if I interpret that to mean you find something objectionable about pears. Ditto GM food.

    “If a customer specifies he wants a product GMO-free, then if a GMO is in the product, that GMO is an impurity. Due to that impurity, the product becomes undesirable. This situation– an impurity causing a product to become undesirable is defined as ‘contamination’ by Webster’s”

    Yes, that science illiterate customer sees GM food as a contaminant, because, in his ignorance, he thinks GM food is unsafe and dangerous. And he is likely to use derogatory words about GM food even when it is not in his non-GM food. He might even destroy some research crops. My point was that your use of that word in relation to GM food, as well as your other stated opinions about GM food throughout the many discussion on that topic on this blog, identifies you as that customer.

  86. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 1:01 am

    jsterritt-
    I’m sorry. I was asking a real question and it comes out an insult–
    Allow me to explain-

    I sometimes view things from a business perspective– ‘what are they selling?’

    In the case of GMO’s, you and some others are selling a future where we have a better and more certain food supply due to the application of this technology.

    That future is one I believe will come to pass in some form. I think the technology offers opportunities to create some fantastic cultivars with traits that allow best yields with highest soil improving capabilities based on exactly where the plant is being grown.
    Oh baby, oh baby. What an awesome bag of tricks this might produce!
    (I would note that in the area of microorganisms there are some GMOs that are quite useful.)

    What the seed companies are currently selling is basically ’round up ready’ (that’s about 99%– Hawaiian papaya being an exception that I am aware of).

    As far as I can tell what they are selling is herbicide in large quantities. My guess is that this will cause evolutionary pressures that will produce weeds immune to the herbicides.
    This will lead to the creation and sale of ’round up 2′.

    From a business perspective, I think I want what you are selling as the benefits are long term and based on best knowledge to create best food crops for long term sustainability of food supply.

    While I can agree with the right to market the current stuff, I don’t really want what is actually being sold as the benefits are short term profits and another hook for the next version of the operating system, ’round up 3, anyone?’ (That is if you believe the pests can evolve to deal with round up 2).

    You might say that I am ‘pro-GMO’ so much that I find the current versions rather poor versions of what should be possible, and I would await a better version before large scale deployment– because I think there is more to GMOs than ’round up ready version 3… 4… 5… 6…’ in the future.

    What is the rush to deploy the round up ready version of the technology?

    Does the question make more sense now?

  87. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 1:09 am

    BillyJoe7-
    You are welcome. I hope you enjoy your new understanding of why you see the word ‘contamination’ in the news reports. 🙂

    I did not misrepresent anything about the link or the rice.
    The article I linked to provided evidence of the use of the word ‘contaminate’- which is how I represented it.
    It is also true that at the time of the mixing, the GMO rice had not been approved (it was approved after the fact and the link I provided was written after the fact.)

    Pick a nit.

    From the beginning of this discussion I said at one point I had thought I would avoid GMOs as a matter of avoiding a chemistry experiment- I’m involved in enough of them all ready.
    As I noted- I have failed to avoid them. “Life goes on,” I say.

    Are you trying to compare the degree of ideologue that you are to what I am?

    Dude- you haven’t admitted it is possible for a GMO to be dangerous.
    I barely batted an eye upon recognizing I would be eating GMOs. 😉

  88. BillyJoe7on 06 Feb 2015 at 6:05 am

    sonic,

    Dude, of course it is possible for GMOs to be dangerous.
    That is why there are regulations and scientifically validated safety tests.
    It’s even possible that one might slip through the safety net.
    It’s also extremely unlikely.

    Don’t drive your car to work tomorrow morning, dude.
    In fact, don’t even go to work.

    “It is also true that at the time of the mixing, the GMO rice had not been approved (it was approved after the fact and the link I provided was written after the fact.)”

    So, again, why did you say “non-approved” when it was actually, as you now finally admit, “deregulated and fit for human consumption”?

    “Pick a nit”

    Yeah like there is merely a nit between “non-approved” and “deregulated and fit for human consumption”

  89. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 8:26 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I said the rice wasn’t approved at the time of the mixing because the rice was not approved at the time of mixing.
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2007/10/content/printable/RiceReport10-2007.pdf

  90. BillyJoe7on 06 Feb 2015 at 11:58 am

    Sonic,

    This is what you said when you introduced your link:

    “The GMO maker BASF uses the term ‘GMO contamination’ to refer to a mixing of a non-approved GMO rice with their approved non-GMO rice.
    http://agproducts.basf.us/news-room/press-releases/archived-press-releases/basf-cooperates-with-usda-on-cl131-rice.html

    This is what your link said:

    “LibertyLink technology is a product of Bayer CropScience. Ongoing testing of CL131 seed has been directed to detecting the presence of LL62, and another LibertyLink trait, LL601, both of which are deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption

    This could not be clearer.

    You now want me to read an 8 page report which apparently says otherwise. You do not seem to realise that this is irrelevant as it was not the report you linked to when you said the rice was “non-approved”. Remember that I was commenting on your faulty reading of your original link, not the one you have now discovered that apparently supports your contention that the rice was “non-approved at the time of mixing”. Funnily enough, I expect your summary of a link that you provide to be a summary of the actual link you provide, not some other link that apparently says otherwise.

  91. RCon 06 Feb 2015 at 1:42 pm

    This is a fantastic example of a whole lot of things that make educating people difficult.

    Rather than just admitting that he mis-characterized the article, sonic has dug in, tried to move the goalposts, and generally used the debate to solidify his view. He’s coming out of this knowing less, and being more confident than he was at the start.

    Dunning-Kreuger, motivated reasoning, and a whole bunch of other issues all rolled together.

  92. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 1:51 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    At the time of the incident, the rice was not approved. That’s why I said that.
    By the time the press release I linked to to demonstrate the use of the word ‘contaminate’ by industry the rice had been approved.
    The rice had been approved by the time of the press release, but because the rice had not been approved at the time of the mixing– I thought it would mention it because i thought it relevant.

    You first denied that the press release was written by a company person, now you want to deny that the rice was not approved at the time of the mixing.

    Why?

  93. jsterritton 06 Feb 2015 at 1:53 pm

    @sonic

    “Does the question make more sense now?”

    No. Your “question” is a string of silly swipes at GM technology, including a Nirvana fallacy-premised argument against RR crops (“I would await a better version before large scale deployment”). Your “question” assumes that “deployment” of GM crops is some kind of top-down decision made by the king of the world (or that should be made by you). What you fail to consider is that agriculture exists in the real world, with smart farmers buying the best tools for the job. BT and RR have proved extremely appealing, useful, and cost-effective for farmers. This is why adoption of GM crops is at 90%.

    While I understand that you would happily stand around awaiting a mythical one-seed-to-rule-them-all, farmers have a job to do. So while you fault science for not delivering on all of its promise, all at once, this little thing called “demand” is what “rushed” the superior-to-non-GM seeds (but inferior to your magic ones) to market.

    You also fail to consider stacked traits, which nearly all seeds planted in the US in the past 10 years use. Trait stacking represents precisely the kind of “better solution” you are disingenuously calling for. You also fail to consider that weed resistance is not unique to RR and is well understood by farmers and seed companies. Killing pests is the business of farming — that’s why farmers are buying seed engineered with traits to accomplish this. Your objection to RR seems to be that it is not a single now-and-forever solution to weeds (another Nirvana fallacy). Alas, I must concede that GMOs have not solved this most vexing of fundamental problems.

    Yours is a caricature of GM crops “soaked in glyphosate.” Your argument ignores the expertise of farmers and biotech scientists. As I said before: People like you who do not care for GM technology no matter the benefit will always minimize that benefit. It is simpler, I suppose, to argue against an imaginary static failure than a real evolving success.

    Keep trying though.

  94. jsterritton 06 Feb 2015 at 1:56 pm

    @sonic

    “My guess is that this will cause evolutionary pressures that will produce weeds immune to the herbicides.”

    Your guess?! This reminds of Peggy Hill saying things like, “the day after Thanksgiving is, in my opinion, the biggest shopping day of the year.”

    Snicker.

  95. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 2:26 pm

    RC-
    I missed your comment.

    The link I provided was to make the point of the industry people using the term as I stated.
    BillyJoe7 denied the link– he claimed it was not written by an industry person and accused me of providing a link that didn’t make my point.

    But my point was that the industry did use this word– and the link I provided shows that. It was BillyJoe7 that denied what the link said and how I used it.

    Now it appears BillyJoe7 wants to deny that the rice was not approved at the time of the mixing. I have provided a link to show this.
    He refuses to look at the link–

    I said the industry people used the word ‘contaminate’.
    BillyJoe7 denied it.
    I said the rice was not approved at the time of the mixing.
    BillyJoe7 wants to deny that.

    I wonder what you think of my comment to jsterritt dated 6Feb.

  96. RCon 06 Feb 2015 at 2:30 pm

    And Sonic doubles down again, instead of simply admitting that the link he initially posted does not support his position at all.

  97. BillyJoe7on 06 Feb 2015 at 3:45 pm

    sonic,

    “You first denied that the press release was written by a company person, now you want to deny that the rice was not approved at the time of the mixing. Why?”

    Why are you now resorting to lying?

    I never denied that the press release was written by a company person.
    Here is what I actually said and I quote:

    “You could be right on that one, though I’m not totally convinced. The press release you linked to issues out of Research Triangle Park (RTP). It appears that BASF is one of 180 companies based at RTP, so I guess it seems reasonable to conclude, though not necessarily the case, that the press release did originate from BASF via RTP.”

    My point was that the only actual quote from a company person in that article did not contain the word “contaminate”. I might also add here that we have not actually indentified the person who wrote the article. Perhaps BSAF did have a company person write the article quoting another company person. Seems a strange thing to do, but who knows. Perhaps RTP wrote the article quoting the company person. Who knows? But my point stands that the only direct quote from a company person in that article did not contain the word “contaminate”. And, remember, you were offering it up as an example of just that after I had pointed out (and as you graciously conceded) that your previous link failed in that regard.

    And I never denied, nor do I “want to deny” that the rice was not approved at the time of the mixing.
    I simply said that you said “non-approved” in relation to the rice that was the subject of the link you provided, whereas the link actually said “deregulated and approved by federal authorities for human consumption”.

    My meta-point is that, whilst denying that you are anti-GMO, you use words and arguments that strongly suggest that this is the case.

  98. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 4:29 pm

    RC-
    I’m at a loss-

    Here is a quote from my link-
    http://agproducts.basf.us/news-room/press-releases/archived-press-releases/basf-cooperates-with-usda-on-cl131-rice.html

    “BASF Agricultural Products announced today it is cooperating with the United States Department of Agriculture to remove all CLEARFIELD® CL131 rice from the marketplace following discovery that some of the seed has been contaminated by an unidentified genetically modified (GM) event.”

    The point I was making is that industry people can use the term ‘contaminate’ when a non-GMO is mixed with a GMO. And they did.
    But I also think they really mean to use the word because the rice wasn’t approved at the time of the mixing as opposed to the fact the rice was GMO. (The fact the rice was approved some months after the mixing could be causing confusion).
    I’m not sure and admitted it.

    At this point I think it might be they are using the word in the same way as farmers, lawyers, judges, educators, and others use the word. But I’m suspicious I am wrong about that.

    Can you tell me why the BASF spokesman used the word ‘contaminate’ to describe the mixing of the LL rice with their Clearfield rice?
    I have admitted uncertainty on this– if you know why the BASF people and the Bayer people use the word ‘contaminated’ in this situation. please let me know.

    Thanks.

  99. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 4:37 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    What you said-
    “No, the BSAF did not use the term “GMO contamination”. The reporter reports that’s what the BASF said. But, again, there is no direct quote from the BASF that includes the word “contaminate”. ”

    Did you forget that’s what you said, because it is 02 Feb 2015, if you want to check.

    Actually the quote from the BASF people was-
    “BASF Agricultural Products announced today it is cooperating with the United States Department of Agriculture to remove all CLEARFIELD® CL131 rice from the marketplace following discovery that some of the seed has been contaminated by an unidentified genetically modified (GM) event.”

    So the word was ‘contaminated’ not ‘contaminate’ and I did not lie– you said the BASF document was not from BASF. Hello…

    You say I’m ‘anti-GMO’, but that’s not at all accurate as I have pointed out that there are valuable GMOs in existence now.

    Perhaps if you would address some of the concerns I spoke of in my comment to jsterritt dated 6 feb.

  100. bdholtzmanon 06 Feb 2015 at 4:53 pm

    “Contaminated” can mean anything. It’s not as loaded a term as has been made to seem here. Technically, putting tea leaves in water is a “contamination.” Just one that many people like.

  101. sonicon 06 Feb 2015 at 5:21 pm

    jsterritt-
    My ‘vision’ of GMOs includes the fact that there are a number of microbes doing excellent work- and I said so.
    Earlier I have stated that I thought the use of ‘no-till’ has been advanced by the GMO user– and this is a good thing.
    The current GMOs have some advantages- yes they do.

    My question was-
    “What is the rush to deploy the round up ready version of this technology?”

    I was expecting an answer based on best science.
    You say it is market forces that demand the use.

    Are you a farmer? Are you a Libertarian?

  102. jsterritton 06 Feb 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Sonic…

    I am sad to say that I cannot parse your comments for any coherent lines of reasoning — or questioning. You seem to have stopped making sense altogether. Have a nice day.

  103. BillyJoe7on 07 Feb 2015 at 12:43 am

    sonic,

    Your first link had a reporter using the word “contaminate” to report what the company spokesperson said, but the only direct quote from the company spokesperson did not contain that word.
    You acknowledged that error and found a second link.
    Here it is:

    http://agproducts.basf.us/news-room/press-releases/archived-press-releases/basf-cooperates-with-usda-on-cl131-rice.html

    The first line says this:

    “Research Triangle Park, NC (March 5, 2007) — BASF Agricultural Products announced today…”

    What does that look like to you? To me it looks like someone from Research Triangle Park is telling us what BASF Agricultural Products announced today. Later on it actually quotes a spokesperson from BSAF (Andy Lee, Director of U.S. Business Operations, Crop Protection Products) as saying this:

    “BASF notified the USDA immediately after becoming aware of the laboratory findings and we continue to work cooperatively with USDA on this situation. BASF is steadfastly working to advance a clear and viable production environment for rice producers now and in future growing seasons”

    That sounds like someone from Research Triangle Park was quoting a spokesperson from BSAF. And the above statement is the only direct quote and it does not contain the word “contaminate” either (just like your first link).
    Which is why I said:

    “No, the BSAF did not use the term “GMO contamination”. The reporter reports that’s what the BASF said. But, again, there is no direct quote from the BASF that includes the word “contaminate””

    You insisted it was a report from BSAF, so I then had a look at Research Triangle Park on the interent and found that it is a reseach facility and that BASF is one of 180 companies based there.
    This prompted my reply:

    “You could be right on that one, though I’m not totally convinced. The press release you linked to issues out of Research Triangle Park (RTP). It appears that BASF is one of 180 companies based at RTP, so I guess it seems reasonable to conclude, though not necessarily the case, that the press release did originate from BASF via RTP.”

    I acknowledged that whoever issued that report out of Research Triangle Park could actually be a spokeperson from BASF, but that that had not yet been established.

    So, after all that, all we have is possibly a spokesperson possibly from BASF – a non-GMO company! – using the word “contaminate” in relation to GM food.

    On the other hand, I linked to a 25 page report on the subject from a GM food company, which mentions that word not even once. In fact they seem to be going out of their way to avoid using that word. Why? Because it is very clearly a pejoritive term used by the anti-GMO crowd to denigrate GM food.

  104. BillyJoe7on 07 Feb 2015 at 2:44 pm

    sonic,

    Regarding your link:

    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2007/10/content/printable/RiceReport10-2007.pdf

    This is the third of three links you have provided to show that the word “contaminate” is used routinely by the food industry (well, you used it for a different purpose but please read on).
    The first link you provided did not quote an industry spokesperson using the word “contaminate” and you have admitted your error.
    The second link is unverified as to its source, but also contained no direct quote from industry using the word “contaminate”.
    I have now had time to read your third link.

    Your third link was more to do with your claim that, at the time of mixing, the GE rice in question was “non-approved”. But, interestingly, it also tangentially has to do with your claim that the food industry and its regulators routinely use the word “contaminate”.

    I challenge you to find a single use of the word “contaminate” in this entire 8 page report.

    Just as in my previously linked 25 page report which contained not a single use of the word “contaminate”, the authors of this report also seem to be going out of their way to avoid using that word. From the first paragraph:

    “This report summarizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ( SDA) response to the low-level presence of two regulated lines of genetically engineered (GE) rice—LLRICE601 and LLRICE604—found in U.S. commercial rice.”

    “USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) initiated an investigation on August 1, 2006, after Bayer CropScience reported that regulated genetic material LLRICE601 had been detected in the long-grain rice variety Cheniere”

    “The investigation was expanded on February 16, 2007, to include the discovery of regulated genetic material, later identified as LLRICE604, in the long-grain rice variety Clearfield 131 (CL131)”

    So let’s put to rest your claim that the food industry routinely uses the word “contaminate”.
    (Even if your second link is verified to have been written by a spokesman for BASF, it adds little to your claim because BASF is actually a NON-GM food producer).

    ———————-

    But also you claim that the GM rice was “non-approved” is not exactly correct.
    (And, remember, this has actually nothing to do with our original disagreement which was about the contents of your first two links)

    Here are the relevant quotes from your link:

    “APHIS’ course of action when it announced that trace amounts of regulated GE rice had been found in commercial rice was consistent with its LLP policy. APHIS’ first priority was to assess the safety of the GE rice. APHIS reviewed scientific data and information about the GE rice and determined that the GE rice poses no identifiable concerns related to agriculture or the environment”

    “It is important to note that both GE rice lines have the same protein, which has been safely used in other deregulated products for more than 10 years”

    It is true that the GE rice in question was not yet deregulated at the time of mixing, but other varieties of GM rice and other GM foods such as corn, canola, and soybean which contain the same gene had long been deregulated.
    From your link:

    Bayer CropScience developed LibertyLink lines of rice to allow the company’s Liberty herbicide (glufosinate) to be sprayed on weeds without killing the rice plants. USDA has approved—and FDA has completed its consultation process for—two LibertyLink lines similar to LLRICE601, LLRICE06 and LLRICE62. However, they are not incommercial production. Federal authorities have concluded that LibertyLink rice poses no threat to food safety, human health, or the environment, and after thorough safety evaluations, APHIS extended deregulation to include LLRICE601 in November 2006.

    These lines were produced by inserting the bar gene (35SBar), which encodes the enzyme phosphinothricin N-acetyltransferase (PAT). PAT provides resistance to the herbicide
    glufosinate, has a long history of safe use, and is present in many deregulated products. It has undergone repeated and thorough scientific evaluation and is used in food and feed, cultivation and breeding in the United States and many other countries. FDA has evaluated the PAT protein for safety on a number of occasions and has concluded that the presence of rice from the LLRICE600 series at low levels in food and feed would pose no safety concerns. APHIS has previously deregulated GE, herbicide-tolerant products such as corn, canola, and soybean that contain the PAT protein

  105. sonicon 07 Feb 2015 at 5:48 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    You are right- I’ve made a mess of the links- I’ve discussed them in a confusing way.
    I’ll be more careful.

    I agree- the term ‘contamination’ is used by the anti-GMO crowd to denigrate GM food.
    And as I pointed out the word is used by farmers and lawyers and judges and reporters and businessmen to describe the situation where a product meant to be ‘GMO-free’ has GMOs in it and therefore becomes undesirable to the customer.

    BTW–BASF does GMOs–
    https://www.basf.com/en/company/research/our-focus/plant-biotechnology.html

    Anyway- at this point I think most people would feel it is their right to eat food that doesn’t come from seed patented by a company they don’t want to do business with.
    As long as that is true, then people will sympathize with the desire for GMO free.
    As long as that is true, ‘contaminate’ will be used in this context.

    I hope your blood pressure can deal… 🙂

    jsterritt-
    Your comments are littered with insults that don’t apply.
    You remind me of Don Rickles.
    Only he was funny. 🙂

  106. sonicon 07 Feb 2015 at 5:57 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I do think at the time of the rice mixing the Bayer rice had yet to be approved and that was the problem– not that the rice was GMO specifically.
    As I said- I messed up the links– what i said about them is OK- just very confusing.
    And sort of beside the point– which was to determine why the legal profession would use the term (they tend to be very picky about word use and I’m not buying there is a secret conspiracy amongst lawyers and judges to denigrate GMOs.)

    Very poor on my part, I get it…

  107. jsterritton 07 Feb 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Sonic…

    I assure you none of my remarks are baseless insults. You have thoroughly lost me. “Are you a farmer? Are you a libertarian? Sometimes I think about things from a business perspective. What do you think about RR?” I cannot begin to fathom what point you might be chasing after, only that you will confuse and mire a discussion over the most trivial detail (e.g., your fascinating exchange with BJ7 — for which you owe us all an apology) and happily stalemate any debate just to stay in the game.

    Your objections to GM are clear and are well known here. Playing coy — and now injured — is just as petty as your constant JAQing and hairsplitting.

    Don Rickles? That’s hilarious. It is soooooo much more likely that you are the hapless victim of insult comedy than the deserving recipient of criticism, well-earned frustration, and scorn.

  108. BillyJoe7on 07 Feb 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Sonic,

    As I’ve often said before, I read and comment on forums to check my understanding of topics, to learn about topics I’ve not explored much before, and for entertainment. The only thing that gets my blood pressure up is running up One Tree Hill on Sunday mornings, and that’s healthy and physiological.

    Hmmm…reminds me of a Kate Bush song:
    For your entertainment: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=16Qk9Jl5OoM
    (Warning: there is a god reference, though the video is likely to make you feel decidedly ungodly)

    As for lawyers, if I was a lawyer and my client suffered financial loss (albeit for pandering to those who think they need the unnecessary) I would probably have a pretty low threshold for using the word “contaminate” as well.

  109. sonicon 07 Feb 2015 at 9:54 pm

    jsterritt-
    I am wondering what about the current version of GMO food stuffs you find so compelling that you think they need to be grown.
    When you say they are extremely appealing, useful, and cost-effective for farmers- and site a statistic of 90% adoption- it sounds like a marketing answer– we need these products because the customers are happy.

    This argument is often made by the seller of the product, the user of the product, or a ‘libertarian’ free market sort of economist.
    So I wonder if you are one of those.

    You mention ‘stacked traits’ but give no examples to make your point- and stacking traits doesn’t do anything for me.

    I told you I recognize there are benefits to existing GMOs.
    You say I don’t care for them regardless of benefit.

    I feel as if you are still talking to the person you imagine me to be– but I’m not that person.
    Not even close…

  110. sonicon 07 Feb 2015 at 10:07 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    And then you get some crusader lawyer who actually believes GMOs are inherently evil somehow–
    Let the legal wrangling begin!

    It is jarring to think I can be ‘forced’ to eat some patented product– even if I don’t want to.

    I could use some plants that can grow in my summer and have roots that can break the hard pan and produce enough root mass to keep the soil from compacting.
    I’ve got two that work pretty well– but in my “Nirvana fantasy” world I can imagine a dozen to choose from- all of which are at least slightly better at the job than what I’m using- perhaps a couple nitrogen fixers on the list…

    That’s what I’m calling my imagination now-
    My Nirvana fantasy…

    Something about shoes fitting… 🙂

  111. jsterritton 07 Feb 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Sonic…

    I am not obliged to “answer for” GMOs. Doing so to your satisfaction would be impossible anyway: you are showing your true colors as a dumbass anti-GMO, science- and fact-averse coffehouse arguer. You have now stooped to perhaps the silliest and telltale trope of your ilk by calling me a shill (“this argument is often made by the seller of the product”).

    No one is forcing you to consume GMOs. There is a perfectly serviceable labeling system in place for people like you who don’t care for GMOs. You have nothing but freedom of choice, yet would constrain the choice of others based on your own ignorance and personal taste. You live in a world custom tailored to your whim and preference and don’t even have the good sense and grace to take “yes” for an answer.

    You are terrible at making yourself clear and nearly possible to understand. I suspect this is the dodgy craft of the conspiracy theorist/malcontent. Regardless, you are unforgivably uninformed (again, I suspect disingenuously so) and refuse to accept better information when you are presented with it. You regurgitate sad, long-demolished tropes of the anti-GMOer. Worse, you have misrepresented yourself here as something you are not: open minded.

    Commenters here have been indulgent of you to a fault, myself included. You repay this kindness poorly.

  112. BillyJoe7on 07 Feb 2015 at 11:38 pm

    sonic,

    “It is jarring to think I can be ‘forced’ to eat some patented product– even if I don’t want to”

    Oh well, watch the video, it’ll make you feel better.
    And if you don’t like Kate Bush, there is an Placebo version.
    It doesn’t work for me like the real thing, but that’s just me.

    The Placebo version of “Running Up That Hill”: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4KEEXyRL0qE

  113. BillyJoe7on 07 Feb 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Okay I cheated.

    Here’s the real Placebo version: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XTvgj2LWjMk

    Still doesn’t do anything for me but hey…

  114. sonicon 08 Feb 2015 at 3:38 pm

    To summarize-
    The idea of a rice that would save millions of children from blindness is a wonderful one.

    The reality of ‘golden rice’ includes a couple of ‘bummers’-
    1) the cultivar hasn’t been found yet, and
    2) the people who the rice is intended for have a dislike for the technology being used in its creation.

    I’m not sure production ready cultivar can be found- it hasn’t been.
    I’m not sure the dislike can be overcome either- it hasn’t been in Europe, for example.

    I would generalize that situation to GMOs in the food stuffs.
    I believe the phrase is- more sizzle than steak.

    I respect the opinion that the situation is otherwise. :-0

    Note- I think the situation with the GMO microbes is different- a lot of bang for the buck with a lot less ‘anti’ mania attached to them.

    BiilyJoe7-
    Nice music-thanks.
    I’m guessing my take from above won’t be very popular at any of the ‘anti-GMO’ sites.
    It really isn’t ideological enough to be part of the current conversation.
    SNAFU.

    jsterritt-
    I must say- disingenuously uninformed is a new one even for me.
    I’m getting trickier by the day. 😉

  115. jsterritton 08 Feb 2015 at 5:17 pm

    @sonic

    “The people who the rice is intended for have a dislike for the technology being used in its creation.”

    Citation needed. This statement is simply not true in any way, shape, or form. It is a cynical and callous made-up lie that you would use, falsely, to argue against life-saving humanitarianism, because of your “dislike” for GM technology. You would put your own ignorant and selfish preference above the health and lives of impoverished people the world over.

    I already demolished this lie in this very comment thread. Repeating it doesn’t make it true.

  116. RickKon 08 Feb 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Sonic,

    The fact that after all this discussion and research into Golden Rice you seem to think it is intended for Europe demonstrates that

    1) you just don’t understand the situation and you’re just making stuff up.
    2) you’re just reflexively disagreeing out of sheer bloody-mindedness, regardless of the truth or falsehood of your position; or
    3) a mixture of both.

    Europe doesn’t have an issue with vitamin A deficiency.

  117. BillyJoe7on 09 Feb 2015 at 6:05 am

    sonic,

    “I respect the opinion that the situation is otherwise”

    Respect is overrated:

    http://robertmoorejr.tumblr.com/post/110101466091/im-an-anti-braker

  118. sonicon 09 Feb 2015 at 9:44 am

    jsterritt-
    Regarding the acceptance of the rice-

    http://www.nature.com/news/china-sacks-officials-over-golden-rice-controversy-1.11998
    The incident has outraged the families of children who ate the Golden Rice. Some have refused to accept the 80,000-yuan compensation and have demanded a guarantee that the rice will not affect their children’s health. “If it’s safe, why did they need to deceive us into this?” said one angry father in the CCTV program.

    RickK-
    I didn’t say that golden rice was intended for Europe. Nothing I said implied that either.
    You misread what I wrote.

    BillyJoe7-
    I respect your right to disrespect. 🙂

  119. jsterritton 09 Feb 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Sonic, you keep reverse engineering pull-quotes from people involved in this Chinese study into sweeping statements like: “the people who the rice is intended for have a dislike for the technology being used in its creation.” These links to reporting on the flawed Chinese study are not evidence for your claim. In fact, I do not see what the two things have to do with one another. The only thing the reaction to the study shows is that people do not like being lied to — what a shocker — and that GMO propaganda remains a worrying problem that may affect uptake of even health- and life-saving GM products, especially if marketed poorly.

    You are claiming to speak for hundreds of millions of people the world over based on your own distaste for GMOs and anecdotes about people being skeptical after being lied to. You cannot extrapolate to hundreds of millions from this. Doing so is lying. You have no authority to make this claim but your own, which is non-existent.

    It is clear you do not know how to support a claim that you make. Instead, you link to an article that inspired you to have a stupid idea or that you think connects dots somehow. This is not evidentiary — it only gives a look into the sad workings of your inhumane anti-Golden Rice campaign of misinformation and lies.

  120. jsterritton 09 Feb 2015 at 1:13 pm

    @sonic

    “I didn’t say that golden rice was intended for Europe.”

    You merely implied that just as well-fed (and science-averse) European consumers prefer non-GM grains in their Mueslix, undernourished and imperiled Asian poor people likewise shun GM products, even at the expense of blindness and death. You are using arguments from popularity and authority to advance your wholly fictional claim that people for whom GR is intended don’t want it.

  121. sonicon 10 Feb 2015 at 8:21 am

    jsterritt-
    You are right- the link does require a bit of reverse engineering.
    And some projection too-

    Here is a better presentation- in date order!-

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-12/26/c_132998794.htm
    All food marketers in the province must establish a special counter or shelf for the GM food in their stores from March 1, 2014….
    They are also ordered post notices in prominent positions to tell consumers they can buy GM food in special zones….
    GM food remains controversial nearly two decades after being introduced to the commercial market, as there is still no consensus on whether it is harmful to humans.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-07/29/c_133518062.htm
    BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhua) — Chinese authorities have vowed zero tolerance and harsh punishment for rule-violating sales and growing of genetically modified (GM) crops days after a media exposure of GM rice on sale at a supermarket in central China.

    http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/08/china-pulls-plug-genetically-modified-rice-and-corn
    Why the ministry allowed the certificates to lapse is in dispute….
    Huang says “rising public concerns [about the] safety of GM rice” likely also played a role….
    The Bt rice project “is now to all intents and purposes dead and buried,” he wrote, blaming an “anti-GM movement whose power and influence are more than matched by its fervour and sheer, undiluted paranoia.”

    It appears the government is responding to requests by the citizens . This leads me to suspect there is a contingent of people who are vehemently anti-GMO.
    This contingent is being influenced and expanded by groups- I think Greenpeace is an example- in some questionable ways.

    How can a group be against a cultivar of rice that isn’t available yet?
    Ideologically motivated decision, I’m guessing.

    Anyway- I said ‘dislike’, the guy quoted in sciencemag said ‘fervour and sheer, undiluted paranoia.’

  122. Steven Novellaon 10 Feb 2015 at 9:56 am

    Sonic- I grant there are anti-GMO sentiments in the area, but this misses the point of the article. Those anti-GMO sentiments may be partly due to the perception that GM crops only help the farmer and not the consumer. Their research showed that attitudes are different toward GM crops designed to enhance the product for the consumer.

    Further, if golden rice works out it has the potential to substantially change the public perception. Therefore it is odd to argue that negative public perception is a reason not to continue to develop golden rice.

    Further still, there are good reasons to believe that the public perception of GMO if significantly flawed, based upon scientific illiteracy and a propaganda campaign against GMO by ideologues and competitors. Saying we should oppose GMO because people are against GMO is dubious and circular.

    Before you argue against a strawman – what I am advocating (see above) is that we complete development of golden rice as a cultivar we can put into the field. The funding and infrastructure is already present. Just allow the necessary field trials to go forward.

  123. sonicon 10 Feb 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Dr. N.-
    I have not argued against further development of golden rice.
    My whole point is that it needs further development!
    Until we have the actual cultivar, we can’t know what the final traits will be, we won’t know if it is safe to eat until some exists to be tested, how people will respond to it, what it will cost to produce and distribute (will there be special storage problems?) …

    And the ‘antis’ can’t know anymore than the ‘pros’– so both arguments about what ‘golden rice’ will do and be like are speculations.

    Perhaps my willingness to look for other solutions is considered a swipe at golden rice. It shouldn’t be.

    I do think that public opinion matters– at this point it would be easier to gain acceptance for a non-GMO solution to the problem, I think.
    This isn’t a statement about how things ought to be– I’m just noting the reality on the ground.

    I agree- the tests should go forward. I’m trying to point out that they are tests– the cultivar that has been touted for well over a decade still doesn’t exist- the test need to go forward.

    It would be nice if there weren’t so many people demanding the test results are known before they are run.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Thank-you for your consideration.

    Perhaps I’m leery and weary of 14 years of false advertising.

  124. sonicon 10 Feb 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Oops-
    I got that last a bit messed up.
    There was supposed to be only one Thank-you,
    and the bit about being weary and leery should follow ‘the tests should go forward’ about four lines up.

  125. Steven Novellaon 10 Feb 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Regarding other methods, as I think I made clear, I don’t think anyone is advocating golden rice instead of any other approach, but rather in addition. Likewise, I think it is misguided to favor any other intervention instead of golden rice. We are already distributing vitamins and encouraging planting of vitamin-A rich crops. These have been helpful but insufficient. Golden rice might close the gap further.

    While it is obviously correct that until we have a final cultivar we cannot do definitive tests, I think you are overstating our current state of ignorance. The beta carotene trait can be tested in the current cultivar, which will give us a pretty good idea what its potential will be in a final cultivar. We can have informed speculation, which indicates so far that this approach should work. Currently there are no deal-breakers.

    I also don’t think that the time it has taken to develop GR counts against it. Developing an entirely new GM trait takes time. Also, progress has been demonstrably slowed by opposition and onerous regulations.

  126. steve12on 10 Feb 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Why do people still argue with Sonic?

  127. jsterritton 10 Feb 2015 at 3:22 pm

    @Steven Novella

    “Saying we should oppose GMO because people are against GMO is dubious and circular.”

    Sonic, this has been precisely your position in this long comment thread. The “evidence” you have presented in support of your false claim is feeble — nothing but anecdotes about consumers not liking GMOs. You are letting a small number of anti-GMO voices — representative of “an anti-GM movement whose power and influence are more than matched by its fervour and sheer, undiluted paranoia” — speak for the hundreds of million of people for whom GR is intended in countries across Asia (not just China). I other words, you are arguing that the voices of the few speak for all, because you are ideologically aligned with the few.

    Arguing against GR as you do — with straw men, circular and motivated reasoning, and lies — is an odious business.

  128. sonicon 11 Feb 2015 at 10:07 am

    Dr. N.-
    You say, ‘it is misguided to favor any other intervention instead of golden rice’…
    I’d say ‘I have no reason to favor golden rice over any other intervention’.

    I’ve known about golden rice for a long time. I think it would be great if there was a rice that helped these people. I hope nothing I have said has given any other impression.

    jsterritt-
    I haven’t said anyone should be against GMOs.
    I haven’t said anyone should be for GMOs.
    I did not say the anti-GMO people are the majority- I called it a ‘contingent’.

    I never said anyone should be against golden rice.

    odious business indeed.

  129. BillyJoe7on 11 Feb 2015 at 2:56 pm

    sonic,

    A while ago I said that you communicate your views poorly and you replied that you think you communicate just fine.
    I think I’ve been proven correct in my assessment.
    Of course I’m being kind in saying so, because the impression you have actually left is that you have wriggled yourself out of the position you seemed to have held at the start of this discussion.
    I’m also being kind in giving you the benefit of the doubt that you have not done this on purpose as a strategy – be just vague enough to be able to back off without losing too much face if things don’t go well – because, again, that is the impression you have left.
    If you are not anti-GMO, then stop using Anti-GMO Propaganda. It’s really that simple.

  130. sonicon 11 Feb 2015 at 9:56 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I have not changed my position since this thread began.
    I have not used any ‘anti-GMO’ propaganda. (Accusations without examples deserve blanket denials- don’t you think?)
    (Of course if using the word ‘contaminate’ correctly is not allowable…) 😉

    I now claim to have made very plain and uncontroversial statements about the situation regarding golden rice on this thread. I can’t find a counter-example.
    Perhaps you can. Good luck!

  131. BillyJoe7on 11 Feb 2015 at 10:22 pm

    “A while ago I said that you communicate your views poorly and you replied that you think you communicate just fine.
    I think I’ve been proven correct in my assessment”

  132. jsterritton 12 Feb 2015 at 2:33 pm

    @sonic

    “I have not used any ‘anti-GMO’ propaganda.”

    Following are your own words from this comment thread. You are arguing against golden rice with fallacies, fantasies, and misinformation. These are common tropes of the anti-GMOer: cast doubt, sow seeds of fear and conspiracy, nitpick the smallest margin of uncertainty and blow it up into the certainty of failure and calamity. This is nobody’s first rodeo.

    “I wonder if the time and money spent trying to create the strain had been spent on other measures what the outcomes might have been.”

    “If the money for the ‘golden rice’ had gone to vitamin a supplements, a rather poor solution, at least there would be fewer blind people today.”

    “Currently the people in the area don’t want GMO.
    Why pick a solution that the people have expressly asked not be used?” This is an entirely unsupported and false claim.

    “But given the track record [of golden rice] it seems this is a lousy way to get something done.
    Too costly, too time consuming and culturally imperialistic.”

    “I really wanted to avoid the whole GMO thing– trying to eat food that has no GMO and so forth.
    My body/brain/mind is involved in enough chemical experimentation all ready. I’ll be in the ‘control’ group for once. Or so I thought.”

    “My main problem is that the GMO contaminate both the gene pool and the food sources- at this point it is probably impossible to avoid GMO where I live.” This is nothing less than the paranoid revving of a conspiracy theorist claiming that we all are being “experimented upon” by GM biotech companies.

    “I’m not against golden rice at all– I point out that the people who this is intended for are- at least that’s the info I have.” Again, you make this utterly false claim as if it were a fact. You have been challenged to defend this sweeping statement and have failed to do. Repeatedly.

    “I admit that I wanted to sit out the experiment and it is a bit disappointing that I couldn’t…” More conspiracy thinking: you state “the experiment” as if it were a fact, not your fantasy.

    “This argument is often made by the seller of the product… So I wonder if you are one of those.” Ah the good, ol’ Monsanto shill gambit.

    “The people who the rice is intended for have a dislike for the technology being used in its creation.” A lie in service of ideology: propaganda.

    “I’m not sure production ready cultivar can be found- it hasn’t been.” Nirvana fallacy. FUD.

    “I’m not sure the dislike can be overcome either- it hasn’t been in Europe, for example.” Red herring, argument from authority, argument from popularity.

  133. grabulaon 12 Feb 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Will you guys never learn?

  134. Mlemaon 12 Feb 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Dr. Novella, what are the onerous regulations that have demonstrably slowed the progress of Golden Rice?

  135. sonicon 13 Feb 2015 at 4:42 pm

    jsterritt-
    Thank-you for including specifics in your critique.

    I believe the situation is well covered-
    Dr. N. is saying “It is misguided to favor any other intervention instead of golden rice,”
    and my position being “I have no reason to favor golden rice over any other intervention.”

    Obviously my evaluation will be different from someone who sees golden rice the favored intervention- I believe all the differences between what Dr. N. has said in the post and what I have said are covered by this difference.

    My musings about the ‘opportunity costs’ and how it is possible the money might be better spent is one such example of how I would analyze the situation differently.
    Because I have no ‘thing’ for golden rice, I am concerned about the costs and the time it is taking to achieve a result. I am willing to consider the possibility that the money would have done more good going to something else.
    I would not expect the people who believe in golden rice would have similar difficulties with the expense or the time taken.

    My statement about the ubiquity of GMO in our food supply is factual. Your need to deny it telling.
    I ask if you work for a GMO maker and you start calling me names.
    I was thinking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would suffice.

    From Steven Novella on 10 Feb 2015 at 9:56 am
    “Sonic- I grant there are anti-GMO sentiments in the area, but this misses the point of the article. Those anti-GMO sentiments may be partly due to the perception that GM crops only help the farmer and not the consumer. Their research showed that attitudes are different toward GM crops designed to enhance the product for the consumer.”

    I have not disagreed about why people have expressed anti-GMO sentiments. I have merely stated that people in the region have voiced anti-GMO sentiments.
    You seem to disagree they exist.
    Why don’t you take up your disagreement with Dr. N.? I think you could accept information from him more easily than you could accept it from me.

  136. mumadaddon 13 Feb 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Sonic,

    I have a begrudging respect for your technique of argument; I can see many scenarios in which it would be very effective. I’ve been following this thread and found it nigh on impossible to extract a single declarative statement, or combination thereof, that could be reasonably held to have stated a position on anything, and yet all along everyone knows by implication what your position is. It’s a skill, seriously: state your position without committing to anything, keep the ground shifting and deftly morph your implications away from the point that just got countered. Deny all knowledge of your prior implied point or the shredding it just took.

    I seem to recall somebody likening your style to that of a lawyer, which I think is fair.

    Anyway, the reason for that preamble was to give some kudos to jsterritt for the effort and skill involved in decoding Sonic’s formless prose.

  137. Ekkoon 14 Feb 2015 at 1:20 pm

    @mumadadd,
    It’s a classic example of weasel words: “words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific and/or meaningful statement has been made, when only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated, enabling the specific meaning to be denied if the statement is challenged.”

  138. sonicon 17 Feb 2015 at 12:16 am

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m guessing one of the biggest differences between us–
    I think it is OK for people to demand GMO free.
    I think people should be able to get it. I mean 100% GMO free, not ‘well, 99% is good enough’.

    While I recognize there are numerous poor reasons to want GMO free, I have not come to the conclusion that all reasons for wanting GMO free are poor.

    Some people say great minds think alike.
    Apparently we are the disproof of that hypothesis. 🙂

  139. sonicon 17 Feb 2015 at 12:19 am

    mumadadd-
    I fear you give me too much credit.

    Based on the comments I think one problem might be that I sometimes make declarative statements when conditional statements would be a better reflexion of what I’m actually thinking.
    I believe when I make these types of statements it comes across as ‘hubris personified’- a description I find appropriate.
    Sometimes I have argued a point ‘for the sake of argument’- but this seems to be a bad idea in this sort of forum as people tend to think I believe something because I’ve argued for or against some aspect of it when in fact it is quite easy for me to argue for something I don’t believe or against what I do.

    I’m thinking it might be best if I make statements that reflect the various levels of uncertainty that I actually have about these things. I suspect if I do that, you might find some of my positions difficult to categorize as ‘pro’ or ‘anti’.
    At least I know I have a difficult time with that.

  140. BillyJoe7on 17 Feb 2015 at 5:29 am

    sonic,

    The problem is that science is not a debate where you randomly pick a position or are randomly given a position and make your best arguments in support of that position. That’s merely a display of debating skills. Worthless as far a science is concerned. Science is a process where you start with the evidence and come to conclusions based on that evidence wherever it might lead.

    “I’m thinking it might be best if I make statements that reflect the various levels of uncertainty that I actually have about these things”

    I don’t anyone much cares about your degrees of certainty or uncertainty about anything.
    We’re more interested in what actual scientists think, especially when they have reached a consensus based on all the available evidence; and the degrees of certainty or uncertainty they express about this consensus.

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