Yes, it sounds like he is a crazed conspiracy theorist. There are many of them, thanks to the internet.
As for his calling Monsanto supporters “Nazis,” well that is what everyone calls everyone they strongly disagree with now days. Calling someone a Nazi simply means “I hate you and I think you are evil.” I wouldn’t take it literally.
From your quotes, this guy sounds like his logic circuits are overwhelmed by uncontrollable hatred and paranoia. That alone discredits him and throws him into the lunatic fringe. Being on his hate list will actually make you more credible, not less.
This kind of lunatic is actually Monsanto’s best friend and ally.
But Monsanto is slimy, imo, and desperately needs to be reigned in.
As in so many controversies, both sides are wrong, and the truth is somewhere in between or altogether elsewhere.
hardnose, I cannot agree with your closing line “…both sides are wrong, …” . The people I respect on the side of science (Dr. Novella, Dave Gorski, et. al.) are not to my knowledge ‘wrong’. Of course they are limited by the current science but my definition of ‘right’ is set up relative to what we know now since I am not omniscient. If you mean that there are some crazies on both side yep I am sure there are as always. The difference is in the ratio. The average anti GMO person in my experience is not as crazy as Adams but by no means are they scientifically literate and sound rational thinkers while those factors are drastically reversed in the pro science camp.
Steven Novella is listed here.
Another corporate science shill who attacks the Seralini study.
On Natural News, Adams has posted this statement
(NaturalNews) UPDATE: After this story was first published, someone has indeed launched a website that appears to be inspired by a suggestion from this story. The Monsanto Collaborators website lists the names of journalists and publications that the site says have contributed to the agricultural genocide of GMOs, comparing the 250,000+ suicides caused by GMOs to “genocide” and the Holocaust. The site looks new and somewhat sparse, but it does put special emphasis on people like Jon Entine, including a link to a rather detailed and shocking background on Jon Entine at Truth Wiki.
UPDATE 2: After careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that the Monsanto Collaborators website is a bait-and-switch trap engineered by the biotech industry in an effort to lure in support from GMO skeptics and then discredit them with some sort of insane “call to action” of some kind. Click here to see the evidence and reasoning on this. Because of this, I am recommending that members of the GMO skeptics community refrain from linking to or endorsing the Monsanto Collaborators website.
Monsanto has more than enough money to make sure the “science” comes out the way they want it to.
Your head is in the clouds if you think “science” is an unfailing oracle of Truth.
First, only ideas that manage to get funding can be studied.
Next, research that does not turn out the way it’s “supposed” to does not have to be published.
And then, it is very easy to confuse the media, the public, and even other researchers, with fancy statistics.
In conclusion: Most research is never done, of what research is done a large percentage is never seen, of what research is done and seen a large percentage is intentionally or unintentionally deceptive.
Scientists are human, funding organizations consist of humans, humans are fallible creatures who like to get paid.
The solution: only consider research done by amateurs in their garage. Even then, be skeptical.
So does Mike Adams … the Health Danger … not realize that by calling out to have the people he hates marked so that they can be ‘taken care of’, he is actually behaving like the Nazis who marked Jews with a yellow star of david so that Nazi supporters could target them?
Hardnose … and anyone else looking to discuss the pros and cons of GMO foods might like to join the GMO Skepti-Forum on Facebook, where open civil discussion is encouraged by everyone for and against GMO foods.
But bring your best evidence with you. All claims must be backed up.
“As for his calling Monsanto supporters “Nazis,” well that is what everyone calls everyone they strongly disagree with now days.”
Oh, Ok. No worries then.
And then your nonsense above above saying, essentially, that science doesn’t work. Remember that when you’re getting medical care, getting into your car, talking on your cell phone. YOu’re right – just a bunch of fancy stats and BS.
Hadrnose: “The solution: only consider research done by amateurs in their garage. Even then, be skeptical.”
Umm, no, and I hope you’re just trolling.
Amateurs make mistakes and do not enough to properly try and correct for bias. Amateurs didn’t figure out the placebo effect. Amateurs don’t know what non-obvious things might invalidate their experiment.
You know how most people will go looking only for stuff that supports their opinion but not the stuff against? This is what leads to anti-GMO people (for example) using the infamous Séralini study as support because they never saw the problems with it. Amateurs in their garages, the ones you want to trust, are going to make mistakes like that.
That ain’t being skeptical, that’s being gullible.
I am incapable of writing before 6 cups of coffee.
“And even though those who make the assertion, idiots like Adams, there’s tons of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO’s are safe for humans and for the environment. Meh.”
“And even thought those who make the assertion, idiots like Adams, are responsible for providing the evidence, there’s tons of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO’s are safe for humans and for the environment. Meh.”
I semi-suspect, from his last line, that hardnose is actually trolling. But it should be kept in mind that many people really do believe in the picture painted by hardnose in the previous lines — in which science is a rigged game because interested parties control the funding, manipulate the research and filter the results.
To anyone who has actually done science this picture is wildly at variance with the world is actually is. However, it does serve the important purpose of calling any and all research into doubt and putting all theories, of any degree of cockamamieness, on an equal evidentiary footing.
WOW, each time you think he has reached the bottom, he finds a hidden trap and a way to go deeper. He seems even too crazy for his own supporters. I always thought that the guy was deliberately crazy too make money with his scams, now I think he has a mental illness.
Some Anti-gmo group already use violent against research equipment, and crops. I hope that this won’t make things worst.
one of the craziest part : The conspiracy is a conspiracy to discredited the conspiracy truthers. wow talk about a multi-layer sandwich of non sense
Use donotlink.com if you have to go to his site, do not give him google ratings.
I’m totally for free speech, but every freedom have a limit, which is freedom of others, and He’s clearly stepping on the freedom of other people. Guys like him are borderline criminal. And yet they roam free smearing people with lies.
The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it (of course, they still deny it, but that only goes so far). So the tools remaining in the toolbox are the usual suspects: conspiracy, cherry-picking, special pleading, and propaganda. Trumping even the naturalistic fallacy in its appeal is distrust of institutions (in this case, Big Agra). The anti-GMOers have been very successful in conflating the specter of nefarious business practices with food safety. Since the motives of a for-profit corporation are by definition not altruistic and good, they must be selfish and bad. Hop, skip, jump to evil. Monsanto is evil. So evil, in fact, that they are conspiring to force us all to become their customers, in order to kill us (the ultimate business model). Because evil.
The Indian farmer myth is a perfect example of post-consensus propaganda. This spurious story about Indian farmers reduced to penury and suicide by Big Agra says nothing about food safety. If GMOs are so bad for our health, why not invent stories about negative health consequences of GMOs? Why trade on fears about economic hegemony instead? Because the science is in. Séralini doesn’t fly anymore. Anti-GMOers lost the debate about food safety on the level playing field of science. So anti-GMOers moved the debate and changed its substance, making the fight about consumer rights and bogeymen. After all, fear mongering doesn’t require facts and conspiracy thinking exists in spite of logic and reason. So instead of food or environmental safety, the fight is now over straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks on corporations and their “shills.” This is not a bad strategy as it demoralizes the pro-science, pro-GMO camp: defending for-profit corporations is a far cry from standing up for good science and promising technology. But Adams has so grossly overreached that he has potentially ruined this strategy for the anti-GMOers. He went “full Hitler” and pulled back the curtain on just how crazy the anti-GMO arguments are.
But Monsanto is slimy, imo, and desperately needs to be reigned in.
This is a common sentiment among anti-GMO activists. Some even claim that they aren’t against GMOs per se, just against Monsanto and the like. When it comes to pointing out what Monsanto, et al., have actually done that is “slimy” enough to warrant being “reigned in” (how exactly, and for what?), we get a lot of conspiracy theories and even outright fabrications. I have yet to see anything that indicates Monsanto has done anything particularly untoward, and sorry, but profit motive isn’t in itself “evil”, it’s just a motive. From what I’ve seen, Monsanto has bent over backwards to accommodate anti-GMO activists, short of giving up on the development of GMOs, but it seems that A) activists will never give up until GMOs are completely banned from the planet, or B) corporations are a thing of the past.
Dr Novella – you reveal either your ignorance or your bias in linking to “Genera” – a disorganized list of research put together so the industry advocates at “Biofortified” – and other blogs like “Academics Review” or now here at Neurologica can say “here are 600+ studies that show the safety of GMOs”.
Show me that “most research” on GMOs is independent of the influence of industry money. Go through those 600 studies – read them all with a critical eye and tell me how they establish the “safety” of GMOs for humans and the environment. Show me how the research that’s been done that applies to questions of equivalency and harm for non-target pests, soil, etc. show that GMOs have had any benefit beyond a temporary reduction in pesticide use which has now turned to stacking of more and more poisonous pesticide resistant traits.
You haven’t bothered to critically read even the articles you use to support your ideology: the Stanford paper on organics vs. conventional, the situation in India (yes, GMOs weren’t directly to blame, but did fail outright in at least two districts planted side-by-side with traditionally planted Indian hybrids which did very well, and yes, the failures did contribute to a situation which included every influence from global markets to unscrupulous seed sellers who also were loan sharks – and therefore WERE indirectly linked to the suicides) Yup – that’s what your past links show – for anybody who wants to waste their time reading them in order to try to point out to you that it takes more than a cursory examination of the literature combined with a techo-panacea fallacy to be a legitimate expert in this area. You really ought to read the stuff you link to instead of relying on the media’s spin to help you decide whether or not that stuff supports your ideology.
When you don’t want to know anything beyond a superficial rhetoric which the industry has worked to disseminate for over 10 years, you can’t say anything with authority. You really ought to stay out of this area unless you do indeed wish to be an unpaid industry shill. You need to recognize undue influence when you see it, and you need to be able to dissect the research that’s been done AND assess the field of research as a whole if you want to be taken seriously by anyone who does understand the science (who, by the way, AREN’T posting on social media). You’ll get a lot of positive feedback from the pro-industry camp. If that’s what you want, that is: a little fame and approval from the industry mouthpieces who are all over the internet now – then more power to you. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking that’s the “science”. It most definitely is not. It’s nothing but profit-driven spin and public relations.
Align yourself with the “authorities” and you never have to worry about being on the “wrong” side – because right is whatever the money says it is. Naivety isn’t flattering to a skeptic.
Where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today? We’ve got nutjobs like Mike Adams on one side, and shills like Chassy on the other. The real scientists aren’t doing “science communication” (read: “we’ll tell you what to believe the science says”) – they’re struggling with hamstrung academic budgets and legal subterfuge from companies like Monsanto. They’re not fighting popularity contests on social media. I felt sick when I saw one of Dr. Novella’s posts on fluoride linked to elsewhere as if it were a science article. I have to ask myself: “what can I do to improve science education so that young people can find their way through all the shit on the internet and hopefully form a sound opinion on these critical issues/” – rather than wasting my time trying to point out what a rational consideration might be on a stupid blog that covers everything from neuroscience to UFOs and bigfoot.
And yeah, I’m making assumptions about my own qualifications in judging what a rational consideration might be – because that’s what we do here!
Bias on Wayne. Bias on Garth.
Dr. Novella doesn’t deserve to be on an anti-gmo hit list. I hope that horrible nazi/Monsanto site disappears fast. But I likewise would like to see biofortified and Academic Review disappear. I ‘d like to see people who don’t know what they’re talking about (Mike Adams and Dr. Novella) quit talking, and I’d like to see those who know what they’re talking about but lie (Chassy and Tribe) quit talking too.
Once again with the conspiracy theories that “Monsatan” has somehow perpetrated a massive conspiracy to cover up evidence and drive research in their favor. Then comes the ubiquitous cry of “shill” the anti’s such as yourself so love to fall back to.
I, for one, have read many of those 600 studies as well as looked at many more that I didn’t read their entirety to determine where they came from. No, none of them were bought and paid for by Monsanto. Nearly all of them were done independently at universities, many of them overseas where there are much stricter regulations on GMOs. They all come to the same conclusion. All you have is Seralini.
Also, you again trot out the Nirvana Fallacy ,”Where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today?” My impression is that there will likely never be any reasonable assessments unless they are positive. This is why you so ardently defend Seralini. What it actually reflects is your poor understanding of science in that no study has yielded positive results in safety/efficacy testing that would warrant further testing. In other words, there is no hypothesis to test beyond the null hypothesis that has already been tested.
You make claims that anyone who supports GMOs do so out of pro-industry or some form of ideology. You are projecting. Few of us here have any stake in the industry. It’s the science that we support, and when anti-science people like you make false statements and erroneous claims, of course we’re going to speak against it. That makes us neither shills, pro-industry, or lovers of Monsanto. That makes us science supporters, and skeptics, who abhor the mangling of science at the hands of anti-GMO activists.
I think you might have meant to post your comment in the Seralini comments. But since you ask (“where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today?”) and since I’m here anyway and since it only took Google 0.34 seconds:
Organizations that support the scientific consensus on GMOs:
This is a partial list of well-respected organizations that have commented on genetically modified crops including a link to where they made the statement:
American Association for the Advancement of Science: ”The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.” (http://tinyurl.com/kkf277d)
American Medical Association: ”There is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods. Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.” (http://bit.ly/166OUdM)
The United States National Academy of Sciences: “Environmental effects at the farm level have occurred as a result of the adoption of GE crops and the agricultural practices that accompany their cultivation. The introduction of GE crops has reduced pesticide use or the toxicity of pesticides used on fields where soybean, corn, and cotton are grown.” (http://tinyurl.com/l75nmc2)
World Health Organization: ”No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.” (http://bit.ly/18yzzVI)
The United States National Academy of Sciences: “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” (http://tinyurl.com/m8muumm)
American Phytopathological Society: ”The American Phytopathological Society (APS), which represents approximately 5,000 scientists who work with plant pathogens, the diseases they cause, and ways of controlling them, supports biotechnology as a means for improving plant health, food safety, and sustainable growth in plant productivity.” (http://bit.ly/14Ft4RL)
American Society for Cell Biology: ”Far from presenting a threat to the public health, GM crops in many cases improve it. The ASCB vigorously supports research and development in the area of genetically engineered organisms, including the development of genetically modified (GM) crop plants.” (http://bit.ly/163sWdL)
American Society for Microbiology: ”The ASM is not aware of any acceptable evidence that food produced with biotechnology and subject to FDA oversight constitutes high risk or is unsafe. We are sufficiently convinced to assure the public that plant varieties and products created with biotechnology have the potential of improved nutrition, better taste and longer shelf-life.” (http://bit.ly/13Cl2ak)
American Society of Plant Biologists: ”The risks of unintended consequences of this type of gene transfer are comparable to the random mixing of genes that occurs during classical breeding… The ASPB believes strongly that, with continued responsible regulation and oversight, GE will bring many significant health and environmental benefits to the world and its people.” (http://bit.ly/13bLJiR)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA is confident that the bioengineered foods on the United States market today are as safe as their conventional counterparts.” (http://tinyurl.com/qzkpacd)
Health Canada: “Health Canada is not aware of any published scientific evidence demonstrating that novel foods are any less safe than traditional foods.” (http://tinyurl.com/pou7ma6)
Society of Toxicology: ”Scientific analysis indicates that the process of GM food production is unlikely to lead to hazards of a different nature than those already familiar to toxicologists. The level of safety of current GM foods to consumers appears to be equivalent to that of traditional foods.” (http://bit.ly/13bOaSt)
International Seed Federation: ”The development of GM crops has benefited farmers, consumers and the environment… Today, data shows that GM crops and foods are as safe as their conventional counterparts: millions of hectares worldwide have been cultivated with GM crops and billions of people have eaten GM foods without any documented harmful effect on human health or the environment.” (http://bit.ly/138rZLW)
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology: ”Over the last decade, 8.5 million farmers have grown transgenic varieties of crops on more than 1 billion acres of farmland in 17 countries. These crops have been consumed by humans and animals in most countries. Transgenic crops on the market today are as safe to eat as their conventional counterparts, and likely more so given the greater regulatory scrutiny to which they are exposed.” (http://tinyurl.com/o72hu84)
Society for In Vitro Biology: ”The SIVB supports the current science-based approach for the evaluation and regulation of genetically engineered crops. The SIVB supports the need for easy public access to available information on the safety of genetically modified crop products. In addition, the SIVB feels that foods from genetically modified crops, which are determined to be substantially equivalent to those made from crops, do not require mandatory labeling.” (http://bit.ly/18yFDxo)
The Royal Society of Medicine: ”Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from that most litigious of countries, the USA.” (http://1.usa.gov/12huL7Z)
American Dietetic Association: ”It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that agricultural and food biotechnology techniques can enhance the quality, safety, nutritional value, and variety of food available for human consumption and increase the efficiency of food production, food processing, food distribution, and environmental and waste management.” (http://1.usa.gov/12hvWnE)
Federation of Animal Science Societies: ”Meat, milk and eggs from livestock and poultry consuming biotech feeds are safe for human consumption.” (http://bit.ly/133F79K)
Consensus document on GMOs Safety (14 Italian scientific societies): ”GMOs on the market today, having successfully passed all the tests and procedures necessary to authorization, are to be considered, on the basis of current knowledge, safe to use for human and animal consumption.” (http://bit.ly/166WHYZ) Google translate (http://tinyurl.com/noawpkm)
“Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture” – Prepared by the Royal Society of London, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences: “Foods can be produced through the use of GM technology that are more nutritious, stable in storage, and in principle health promoting – bringing benefits to consumers in both industrialized and developing nations.” (http://bit.ly/17Cliq5)
International Society of African Scientists: ”Africa and the Caribbean cannot afford to be left further behind in acquiring the uses and benefits of this new agricultural revolution.” (http://bit.ly/14Fp1oK)
Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities: ”Food derived from GM plants approved in the EU and the US poses no risks greater than those from the corresponding conventional food. On the contrary, in some cases food from GM plants appears to be superior with respect to health.” (http://bit.ly/17ClMMF)
International Council for Science: ”Currently available genetically modified crops – and foods derived from them – have been judged safe to eat, and the methods used to test them have been deemed appropriate.” (http://tinyurl.com/na7ojbu)
Thanks to Richard Green for compiling this list. I’m pretty sure the links won’t work here, but you get the idea…
You’ve identified the problems in science research.
So far so good.
Unfortunately, you then exaggerate them out of all proportion.
Next you throw up your hands in defeat.
(I suppose it’s a lot harder then trying to fix the problems)
But your last sentence is just inane… a rejection of all the reasons why a scientific approach IS required.
Mlema – On this topic I am acting as a science journalist, one with some background in science and who actually takes the time to read the research. Yes, I have read much of it, and it is my scientific assessment, not ideology as you suggest. I have no a-priori bias here, except to reflect what the science says.
And there are scientists communicating on this issue. Kevin Folta is a genetic scientist doing GMO work, independently at a university, who is outspoken on this topic.
And many scientific organizations have reviewed the evidence and come to the conclusion that GMO are safe – AMA, AAAS, WHO, European Commission, and others. That is where the consensus is, which puts you in the position of global warming deniers – going against the consensus with conspiracy theories.
You’re also just wrong on the Indian suicide thing – Monsanto and GMO crops were not a necessary or critical variable in the suicides. They are common in rural regions anyway, especially among farmers, and correlate with predatory lending practices and high risk practices on the part of the farmers. GMOs were entirely incidental. Saying they were “indirect” is misleading. They were no more involved than the farm equipment they had to buy also. Why not blame the tractor manufacturers?
(yes, GMOs weren’t directly to blame, but did fail outright in at least two districts planted side-by-side with traditionally planted Indian hybrids which did very well, and yes, the failures did contribute to a situation which included every influence from global markets to unscrupulous seed sellers who also were loan sharks – and therefore WERE indirectly linked to the suicides)
Well if this post is going to be featured on this week’s Name that Logical Fallacy on the SGU I call this one: Moving the goalposts!
It seems that, if someone sells a fake version of your product, you are indirectly to blame because, if it wasn’t for your product being on the market, there would be no possibility of a fake version of your product being sold by unscupulous sellers.
(My reading leads me to conclude that this is why GMO crops failed – they weren’t actually GMO crops but merely labelled as such. Please correct me if I have misundersood this, of if you have evidence to the contrary)
There is a thriving underground black market for GMOs in places like India and China where basically untrained laypeople take a paid-for product and “re-engineer” it in order to sell their own version of it at reduced cost for their own profit. Unfortunately, this in itself has unforeseen consequences as oftentimes the seeds don’t produce like they should. This would be like improperly using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, or worse, creating one’s own homemade version without having any idea of how to do it properly. In other words, they’re getting greedy and want to circumnavigate established procedures that are in place for good reasons.
Mlema seems to think that they should go back to ancient farming methods. The problem is, those methods cannot feed a population of billions and are fraught with far more problems, which is why modern methods were developed in the first place.
@Mlema : wait, Really ?did you really said Steven Novella does not read the studies is critic, wow, YOU are showing you ignorance much about who you are talking to. Before criticizing somebody KNOW what that person do that person before hands, Listens to a couple of his podcast, read the TONS of article he write, just that empty accusation makes all the rest of your too-long for-no-good-reason post null. That not just a Straw man, it is a hollow mannequin.
This is so true. I’m a pretty verbose person, sometimes to my detriment, but I try to make my sentences count. Mlema, on the other hand, inundates us with a lot of useless garbage that can honestly be distilled into one or two sentences. Essentially, the arguments come down to: we’re shills, there is a massive conspiracy occurring directed by Monsanto, Monsanto is suppressing research, and all safety research regarding GMOs, aside from Seralini and Benbrook, of course, is either the direct work of shills or is being funded, and therefore given heavy-handed direction, by Monsanto.
Personally, I think it’s a tactic not unlike a Gish Gallup where a person is subjected to a long string of arguments that is nearly impossible to address all of it, in order to catch a person in a “aha!” moment or to claim that us pro’s weren’t able to address the arguments.
“Mlema seems to think that they should go back to ancient farming methods. The problem is, those methods cannot feed a population of billions and are fraught with far more problems, which is why modern methods were developed in the first place.”
This is starkly evident in Africa, and more specifically Zimbabwe where I am originally from. The government tried to sell giving the land back to the people, so they could farm themselves instead of relying on the big mostly white owned farms. You only need to look at the thousands who are now starving and how ancient farming methods completely sucked the land dry, to see that they just don’t work on the scale we would need them to… they need modern farming methods and techniques to be able to survive. It is all very nice to make wonderful long posts about the benefits of “natural” farming or whatever you want to call it and going back to basics etc, but the reality is all you would do then is create mass starvation and most likely speed up desertification.
(PS the story there is much more complicated than that and there are many political twists and turns, but ultimately, without modern farming practices: people starve)
One powerful faction is the alliance between huge corporations and the huge central government. I am not against business or corporations or government. I believe in capitalism and I believe that we need a government. I am not a leftist loon or an anarchist loon. However, as the American founders were aware, any organization that becomes too powerful is a threat to democracy.
Another powerful faction is the alliance between Big Science and Big Drug and the Medical Industry. I am not against science or technology. I have been a scientist most of my life and I believe in the scientific method. But our scientific establishment has become overly powerful and corrupted and biased.
I think all skeptics should be aware of these factions. Your tendency is to go along with anything that is labeled as “science.” You don’t apply the same level of skepticism to mainstream science as you apply to what you consider fringe science. But sometimes “fringe” science is actually a sensible rebellion against an irrational mob consensus.
Your characterization of skeptics as people who “go along with anything that is labeled as “science”,” is absurd. You are making the familiar claim that science is like religion or team sports: something people choose to believe in and then do. Science is not an ideology. Science is evidence-based, not loyalty-based. Sure, there is corruption in institutions — some people will always try to game the system and there will never be a shortage of corruptible people. The role of science is to (try to) strip away all biases in order to make accurate observations and get at truth. Corruption is another one of the biases that impedes science. Your gambit is that corruption somehow defines science.
I do not have any idea what you mean by “fringe” science. It seems like you mean bad science: the pseudo- and junk- and anti-science we discuss in these pages. I would argue that there are not flavors of science (no fringe vs mainstream), there is only quality (good vs bad). To draw from a salient point about “alternative” medicine: what do you call an alternative modality that works? Medicine. What do you call “fringe” science that is plausible, rigorous, valid, reproducible, and free from bias? Science.
Your phrase, “irrational mob consensus,” is also BS. You would like to be dismissive of scientific consensus (for some reason), so you call it a bad name and attach it to poor thinking (that of an irrational mob). Again, science doesn’t work like that. Despite your attempt to characterize scientific consensus as some sort of bandwagon fallacy, there is really nothing you can say to chip away at the reputation of scientific consensus. It is not a dogma, an institution, an interest, an ideology, or some person or physical place you can go to and thumb your nose at.
“Your phrase, “irrational mob consensus,” is also BS. You would like to be dismissive of scientific consensus (for some reason), so you call it a bad name and attach it to poor thinking (that of an irrational mob).”
Hardnose will dismiss the consensus in exactly the same manner he accuses skeptics of dismissing the fringe.
It is clear from your comment that you have not bothered to educate yourself about the science in support of GMO safety, yet the substance of your long rant, of which there is very little, pillories Dr Novella for his (alleged) ignorance. You also demand proof of research that is “independent of the influence of industry money,” yet reject an industry-independent website’s list of exactly that (i.e., industry-independent research). You’ve even cobbled together a narrative keeping the Indian farmer suicide meme alive (and that’s all it is — a mean, vicious, manipulative meme), all while criticizing others for speaking on matters without properly informing themselves.
I’d like to address this sad myth directly. I know it’s hard to “unsee” a heartrending documentary like “Bitter Seeds” and re-think the propaganda of compelling figures like Vandana Shiva. However, just a few minutes on the Internet is all it takes to learn, from non-industry-funded scientific and academic journals, the facts of this well-studied matter. I would urge you to invest such a small amount of effort before accusing others of your own faults.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 170,000 deaths by suicide occur annually in India.
Only about 10% of the total annual number of suicides in India are those of farmers.
A 2008 meta-review of data between 2002 and 2006 “suggests that Bt cotton has been quite successful in most states and years in India, contributing to an impressive leap in average cotton yields, as well as a decrease in pesticide use and increase in farmer revenue.”
A comprehensive review in October of 2008 by the International Food Policy Research Institute found: “First, there is no evidence in available data of a “resurgence” of farmer suicides in India in the last five years. Second, we find that Bt cotton technology has been very effective overall in India. However, the context in which Bt cotton was introduced has generated disappointing results in some particular districts and seasons. Third, our analysis clearly shows that Bt cotton is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the occurrence of farmer suicides.”
A 2012 paper in The Lancet that surveyed India’s suicide mortality rate noted: “Studies from south India have shown that the most common contributors to suicide are a combination of social problems, such as interpersonal and family problems and financial difficulties, and pre-existing mental illness.”
Another Lancet study also published in 2012 found that young women in rural areas of India and China “are at especially high risk of dying by suicide.” The authors of this paper were surprised to find “that suicide was higher in India’s richer states and that divorce, separation, and widowhood in women were protective [that is, mitigating] factors for suicide.” Why would that be? One of the paper’s coauthors said in a press interview that “interpersonal violence” (such as “marital violence”) and “economic difficulties” in India are the “main social determinants for suicide in women.”
A 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that in India “the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes.”
A 2014 review published in The Conversation looks at the numbers: “In 2001 (before Bt cotton was introduced) the suicide rate was 31.7 per 100,000 and in 2011 the corresponding estimate was 29.3 – only a minor difference.”
Neither Monsanto nor the biotechnology industry funded any of the aforementioned studies.
“Hardnose will dismiss the consensus in exactly the same manner he accuses skeptics of dismissing the fringe.”
The hypocrisy of this is not even the biggest problem, because dismissing the fringe is usually justified, and explanations are given for why specific ideas should be dismissed. On the other hand, hardnose uses vague nonspecific stereotypes to treat the consensus as if it were worthy of dismissal.
His ideology is contrarianism of skeptical positions, and a common tactic that he uses is to create a false equivalence between the fringe and mainstream. The problem is that this equivalence is false. Consensus science is not perfect, but that does’t mean that is equal to quackery. It’s related to the “perfect solution fallacy” and hardnose wants to put all of the positions that are not perfect into the same category when they are not.
Hardnose is nosing around the Galileo gambit. Only for him, it’s less important that he (or Seralini) gets to be Galileo than it is for scientific consensus to be a big, bad, totalitarian doctrine. He’s not talking about science, he’s railing against the Empire. Like the anti-GMOers and others, hardnose is anthropomorphizing science; turning it into an exclusive, colluding club who have power — and it is only that arbitrary power that gives greater credibility to “mainstream” science over the “fringe’s.” Hardnose paints a picture of science that is sectarian and dogmatic. Sorry, but that not how it works. Scientific consensus isn’t Church dogma. This isn’t 1610. Hardnose, Seralini, vom Saal, and the Food Babe are not Galileo.
It seems to me that the most compelling argument regarding science is its efficacy – it works in a practical manner. “Fringe” science (aka pseudoscience) does not, nor can it demonstrate its efficacy, which is why it’s “fringe”. While science in practice isn’t perfect, human errors and biases are there just like in any other endeavor, the way science is set up is to minimize these issues in order to tease out factual reality. No other human endeavor has been able to do this in practical reality. For me, that’s a big reason why I’m so protective of science from cranks and pseudoscience proponents, and I think it’s important to protect the integrity of science as much as possible, because it works, and those who attempt to undermine it in the name of their ideology, greed, or whatever other motive they may have, should be (rightfully) called out.
Those are some very even-handed statements, but I don’t understand your terms. You seem to have some personal and interchangeable definitions for things (science, mainstream science, establishment science, etc). On the one hand, you’ve got some kind of “rut” that “mainstream science has fallen into” and “rebels” who are “just trying to break out” of it. On the other, “our scientific establishment” is a powerful, irrational, self-serving, and despotic mob. Strong words against no less broad and awesome a thing as all of science.
Scientific consensus is not a conspiracy. It does not mean that some ideas got more votes than others. It certainly isn’t a might-makes-right totalitarian doctrine forced on us by a powerful few. Why are you trying to shoehorn something as broad as scientific inquiry into an X-Files plotline?
Those who choose to pursue avenues of inquiry that run counter to scientific consensus are acting, by definition, against the best information available. Moreover, they need to bring their A game. If you intend to overturn scientific consensus, you need to have the cleanest experiments, perfect controls, massive numbers, good replicates and appropriate statistics (I’m paraphrasing Kevin Folta here). This is not the kind of science we see from the “fringe rebels,” which is why the fringe doesn’t influence consensus (sorry — it’s not because of unfair bullying coverups by shadowy conspirators).
“The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it”
Not sure I agree with this. Human beings are incredibly talented and keeping themselves blind to truths they disagree with. I work with several people who get their information from limited sources and have no real inkling that there might be other sources out there that have a different take, specifically with Monsanto and GMO’s. It’s the whole ‘you say my sources aren’t credible but what makes your sources any more credible’ argument. As long as whoever they’re using as a source fits their paradigm than they’ll continue to use them to confirm their biases.
“I would argue that there are not flavors of science (no fringe vs mainstream), there is only quality (good vs bad).”
That’s a great way to put this. Too often woo believers try to draw this false dichotomy between ‘Real’ science (Their particular woo) and most other science, because it doesn’t support their fantastical claims.
“Show me that “most research” on GMOs is independent of the influence of industry money. Go through those 600 studies – read them all with a critical eye and tell me how they establish the “safety” of GMOs for humans and the environment”
Shifting the burden of proof? A 7 paragraph rant with no evidence provided, fantastic job wasting your breath. See jsterritts response to you for an example on how it’s supposed to be done.
” I have been a scientist most of my life and I believe in the scientific method”
Like we learned with Michael Fullerton, saying it doesn’t make it so. You make this claim every discussion and have yet to identify what exactly makes you a scientist. In fact, your consistent anti-science behavior and your consistent misunderstanding of how science works tends to point to something other than a science background, for example:
“The mainstream consensus can be wrong, and the fringe rebels can be wrong. What we should try to do is make our decisions based on evidence and reason, not on who is saying what.”
You’re first sentence is correct. The second assumes that some sources aren’t anymore credible than others, which isn’t true. In fact the hypocritical part of this statement is that evidence and reason provide us with consensus and understanding – in the case of most actual science, evidence can reasonably alter our view on a thing. Fringe science however constantly seeks to validate a predetermined bias or goal, and absolutely refuses to acknowledge any evidence that works against their beliefs.
“I don’t form my opinions based on whether they are aligned with the mainstream or not. ”
Neither do most of us, however after looking into the research and bothering to understand it, often our opinions align with the consensus, for a reason. that’s HOW a consensus is formed. As a self proclaimed scientist, you should understand this.
“Sometimes non-mainstream rebels are just trying to break out of a rut that the mainstream has fallen into.”
It’s extremely rare, especially now a days for anything of consequence to be discovered by a lone rogue scientist as you woo believers like to romanticize it. Research is expensive and often takes teams of people working to accomplish. Like it or not, organizations like governments, schools and companies are responsible for more than 99% of all research done today. The nice thing about science is once you show some evidence for something, others will work to confirm your findings. If confirmed you build…wait for it…a CONSENSUS! Overtime as evidence is gathered to support a claim a consensus is formed.
First let me understand what you’re saying. Have I got this right?:
‘GMOs are safe and my evidence is: AMA, AAAS, WHO, European Commission, and others.’
But let me begin anyway by saying: a statement like ‘GMOs are safe’ is not scientific and can’t be supported because: 1) Every organism is a unique event and there are numerous techniques considered to be “GM” – and the organisms involved vary widely 2) Safe can only be defined in the context of use and consumption. 3) there’s been no comprehensive evaluation for more than a few organisms, if that. The surveys on safety research reveal problems in the research, and do indicate safety problems (depending on which organisms your’e discussing and whether or not you’re discussing environment or consumption – and remember, environment does effect human safety)
In other words: which gmos are safe and what are they safe for, or in regards to? And where is the testing that’s appropriate to the risk? Or, for that matter, where is the evidence of benefit beyond, what I’ve said, a temporary reduction in toxicity and volume of pesticide use. Also, I have to ask anyone who makes the claim “gmos are safe” to reconsider the following typical belief (if they have this belief): that genetic modification doesn’t change the plant in any way that non-transgenic breeding doesn’t. Transgene modification is generally what people are referring to when they say GMO. It’s a mutagenic process and automatically brings into question the relationships to other organisms.
I’m willing to address your argument from authority, but I expect you will provide the words spoken and their context in order for me to reply in each case. I would hope too that you would take the time to say why you think what one particular group is saying means “gmos are safe” Personally, I’m wondering how your opinion on this topic evolved from ‘gmos must be evaluated on a case by case basis on risk vs. benefit.’ (that is what I’ve seen happen here on this blog over the last 2 years or so) “GMOs are safe” is nonsensical to my ears.
Regarding the Indian Farmer suicides. I’m looking at an earlier post in which you deny any connection to bt cotton. I have to dismiss studies where stats used on cotton yield are erroneous – or the paper was irrelevant to the actual phenomenon of the bt cotton in India. But the first study you linked (from 2008) had some value for me in at least illustrating the multifaceted nature of the issue and where bt cotton fit in, and how it couldn’t be ruled out as playing a role overall in a development that was influenced by nothing less than global economics, especially in certain districts. In fact, I would say the problem of bt cotton in India was more about the Indian entrance into the WTO which opened markets to companies like Monsanto and expected farmers to compete against countries like the US – which subsidizes its own cotton farming. But there was outright crop failure to start off, when only a few GM hybrids were available. (why should that be surprising? It’s happened in the US when product was introduced. But in the US we require compensation for farmers when a product fails in such a way) Now that most of the 200+ cotton varieties Indian farmers have developed over many years have added the bt trait, farmers find it difficult to get the older non-patented varieties. As bt cotton has become a larger part of cotton in india, yields have dropped. I also would say that the data in that paper needs to be evaluated in light of factors like how many farmers are leaving farming altogether. But anyway, it took me a long time to read that paper, and that’s the reason I never ended up commenting on that post. But if you want to take some time to re-address that issue and to bring in other evidence which is more direct (the paper was more or less an assessment of numerous writings on the issue, including government statistics, which some Indian journalists claim are not up to date.)
That tractor comment was funny. It’s surprising we don’t have a tractor company marketing magic “don’t need gas” tractors in India – promising a better life through technology and blaming the farmers when it turns out: the tractor needs gas and doesn’t plow.
It’s Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh which can’t be ruled out as districts where suicides were affected by the bt cotton phenomenon, according to your 2008 IFPRI paper. But apparently since the time that paper was written more districts are investigating the performance of bt cotton. The diagram on page 39 of the IFPRI paper covers things pretty thoroughly but leaves out the fact that in many cases the crop did fail for reasons other than drought – pest infestation, bolls dropping, or no boll production. So put those in there in the area of low yields and I think you’ve got a fairly complete picture. But if you want to enlarge the picture and include India’s entrance into the WTO and opening its markets to seeds from Monsanto and fallacious advertising (called out on India’s, or to compete with countries like the US where cotton is subsidized, (although that could be inside the “Low market & support cotton prices” bubble). And you’d have to add a bubble for intensive, and misleading marketing. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/11/how-the-times-of-india-colluded-with-monsanto-in-fake-reports-of-bt-cotton-successes/ http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/reaping-gold-through-cotton-and-newsprint/article3401466.ece http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/fwire-india/asci-objection-forces-mahyco-monsanto-to-modify-bt-cotton-ad-188944.html
So that’s as brief as I can be to start with on the Indian farmer suicides, and it’s way too brief. This is a gigantic issue, difficult, complicated, and global in its roots.
What do YOU think brought about the controversy over bt cotton in India? Monsanto was excited, the Indian government was excited, the farmers were excited…what happened? Why did we go from anticipation of a technological boon to claims of suicides due to failure of bt cotton? are you saying this was all about drought? The Indian farmers have been dealing with drought for many centuries. Loan sharks? The cotton was supposed to save money on pesticides, increase yield and be “white gold” according to advertisements.
Was it about inflated expectations? poor performance of the few varieties introduced? Global marketing forces? Who was responsible for what happened? I guess it was the farmers themselves? Or, did nothing happen except the same old same old? – and it’s those nasty anti-gmo groups that overlaid an interpretation which would make Monsanto look bad? poor Monsanto!
Monsanto now controls 95% of the cotton seed in India. Is this because bt cotton in India has been successful? Now Bollgard 2 and Roundup make their way onto the scene and Monsanto profits in India increase. What’s really going on here? We have about 15 years now since markets in India were opened to companies like Monsanto, Cargill, et al. What’s the result for cotton farmers in India?
Not sure what Kevin Folta has to do with any of this, but the guy’s a master of industry-inspired rhetoric. But he hasn’t made GMWatch’s list of “myth makers”. Coincidentally, here’s an interesting article I just happened to come across last night. Folta takes part in some of the conversation (as does the scientist referred to in the article) very interesting. Folta indulges in a little “jaqing off” himself in this one. http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-12640-muzzled-by-monsanto.html
I respect and appreciate that you took a moment to try to support your statement – something I used to do
But what exactly is your statement?
If you’re posting this list of organizations in order to show what you believe is a “reasonable assessment of GMOs today” by providing:
“…a partial list of well-respected organizations that have commented on genetically modified crops.”
Well, thanks! But I have to ask you to please make some connection between the comments and the reasonable assessment you think they make if you want a more detailed reply from me.
Do you think that when people are given land taken from them generations ago that they automatically know how to utilize it, or just automatically go back to “ancient farming methods”? (what is that anyway?) Ancient vs. modern is a false dichotomy here. Agricultural scientists and farmers can maximize biomass production by considering the climate, soil, indigenous plants and animals and diversifying the land use. And that’s what they’ll do if given the resources and left alone by the MNCs – who want to “modernize” agriculture (read: fossil fuel inputs, GMO monoculture – all temporary fixes) If you’ve got no money you can’t very well use anything but “ancient farming methods”. But if you’re only given loans to buy products from MNCs, you can overlay US-style agriculture, which may, with great cost, improve things for a while. Keep the WTO and IMF out, put in technical and financial assistance and a long-term solution may be possible. But maybe that’s what you’re saying. Anyway – that’s my 2 cents.
“It is all very nice to make wonderful long posts about the benefits of “natural” farming or whatever you want to call it and going back to basics etc, but the reality is all you would do then is create mass starvation and most likely speed up desertification.”
Straw man and conclusion based on false premise.
“ultimately, without modern farming practices: people starve”
Definition needed for: modern farming practices, ancient farming practices and “natural”. Does modern mean the practices generated post WW2 in the US? “Natural” is a fallacy. Anything humans do is “natural”. Make no mistake, diversified farming with integrated pest management is not an unsophisticated agriculture. And yeah, there are definitely “many political twists and turns” which are a very critical consideration in how these things go down and whether or not there is any success in attempting to re-establish independent farmers on their own land. Ancient agriculture was communal.
Hardnose, could we get a straightforward statement about what you’re point is? Preferably without all the flowery metaphors and prose, just a sentence or two that explains what it is exactly your issue with Monsanto is, preferably with a reference? Thanks.
“Monsanto has been arguing that “there has been no confirmed cases of poor field performance of Bt cotton attributable to insect resistance”. Eight years down the line Monsanto admitted its failure. The question is why?”
Is this a rant against business practice or science? Scientifically speaking, if the facts in the article are true (and again, no sources referenced) then Monsanto is admitting some failure, down the road, when it’s found that it might not be working as planned.
so what you have is a couple of articles in a couple of newspapers (Huffpro anyone?), one for which you claim to have to “fix” because it doesn’t suit your narrative. You later to go on linking a counterpunch article (no political motivations there!) claiming collusion by an Indian Newspaper. Do I need to even address the issue with opinion pieces you linked to?
Boulder Weekly…Boulder’s TRUE Independent Voice…really? I’m sure a small local newspaper in a location who’s general leanings are no secret (I live near by, am mostly what one would call liberal and Boulder makes even me blush) that contains an entire section called ‘Boulderganic, no way they have a bias.’
I mean, have people friggin forgot how to provide evidence for an argument these days? jsterritt and Dr. Novella have provided links to study upon study, experiment upon experiment and articles laden with actual facts as examples.
Really? I give you The Lancet, you give me CounterPunch? You invoke the insidious myth of Monsanto’s Indian farmer “genocide,” then shift the burden of proof and move the goalposts to the begged question, “what do YOU think brought about the controversy over bt cotton in India?” Really?!?!?
“Where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today?”
If the good word of the AAAS, AMA, FDA, WHO, and virtually every health and regulatory body of experts on the planet isn’t good enough for you, then you will never be satisfied. You can’t make that a problem of insufficient evidence and you can’t make it my problem or Dr Novella’s. It is denial on your behalf, plain and simple.
“If the good word of the AAAS, AMA, FDA, WHO, and virtually every health and regulatory body of experts on the planet isn’t good enough for you, then you will never be satisfied.”
Come on jsterritt, you can’t seriously expect mlema to accept your sources as reliable. I mean, as he pointed out they aren’t asking the RIGHT questions. We’re all beautiful butterflies, so until they do an experiment on each and every one of us you can’t possibly know if it’s safe or not.
Mlema is, indeed, conflating business practices with science. Like I said earlier, having lost on the level playing field of science, anti-GMOers are waging a proxy war and Mlema is doing exactly that: as long as Monsanto comes out as a bad guy, GMOs are bad. Frankly, I’m surprised it took that much cherry-picking to paint Monsanto in a poor light. It boggles my mind that a regular reader here wouldn’t have the good sense to be embarrassed about arguing in this manner. We’re here because Mike Adams posted a gruesome screed fueled by lowdown tricks and lies conflating business practices with science…and here we are with Mlema (same tricks, just less diabolical). For the record, I surrender unconditionally to Mlema’s ultimate gambit: I cannot provide proof that Monsanto is virtuous and innocent of all shenanigans.
“The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it” — one thing’s for sure, Mlema made whoever said that look like an idiot
Mlema along with a few others, like hardnose have an ongoing struggle here to try to understand how to follow evidence and how science operates. It’s tiresome in that they mostly repeat the same basic tropes with the same basic problems over and over again. As you can see, what stands for evidence with these guys get’s pretty bad, and it’s mostly an exercise in a confirmation bias. Mlema commits the same anti-organized anything arguments that hardnose does, he’s just slightly less obvious about it.
I realize Monsanto is a touchy subject for some. I also realize that business can make people and organizations do things that are motivated more by profit than common sense. What I don’t believe however is that there’s a conspiracy to do anything more than make money. If these companies are killing off or making sick their consumer public than what is the point? Just because a company has made some products in the past or even currently, used to do harm, doesn’t mean they’ve become soulless death dealing machines.
I, for one, have yet to see anyone provide evidence that Monsanto, et al., has done anything untoward or has been complicit in any harm, including Indian farmers. It seems to me that, as far as I can tell, they’ve been playing it pretty straight and just trying to run a business. If a person has a philosophical objection to profit motive, well, that’s a different conversation I would think. People are making Monsanto out to be some great satan when all we’ve seen are a bunch of conspiracy theories and a cynical “you can’t trust them” attitude.
As far as Monsanto and the Indian suicides, from what I can tell they have been straight about the product they sold, it worked well, but the faux pas was with a local government temporary ban on GMOs that some farmers chose to ignore, and we’re then distraught when that government came in and destroyed their crops.
I realize one of the links is to a YT video which is usually bad form, but the Cornell professor has some experience with Indian farmers and sheds some light on the situation there. It’s not a cut and dried topic, but there is little evidence that GMOs were the cause of suicides nor were Monsanto business practices.
I always get a bit queasy when I have to resort to defending Monsanto. That is part of the anti-GMO narrative, and it seems that many activists who base conclusions more on ideology than evidence have to have their bad guy. Of course, I suppose it helps many of their anti-corporate, anti-capitalist stances as well.
Stick around long enough or just browse past blogs/comments and you’ll see who’s a repeat offender. Mlema can occasionally come off as skeptical but he goes and ruins it with this kind of crap almost every time. hardnose is another one but he’s not so flexible. He basically opposes in some way or another anything Dr. Novella posts, typically without much substantial to support his arguments. Some of them try, some of them don’t. There are different levels of sophistication on both sides and I find the woo believers that haunt this place to have some pretty strong patterns, most of which become disappointing after a time.
“I, for one, have yet to see anyone provide evidence that Monsanto, et al., has done anything untoward or has been complicit in any harm, including Indian farmers”
Like we learned with Michael Fullerton, saying it doesn’t make it so. You make this claim every discussion and have yet to identify what exactly makes you a scientist.
Interestingly, actually, no… The opposite of interestingly… Let me start again… Speaking of our little one-wit Mikey, he had this to say on the matter of consensus the other night on youtube:
Science in no way whatsoever is based on consensus. Science is based on evidence and the scientific method. That’s all. Appealing to any kind of consensus to determine truth is a logical fallacy: appeal to consensus.
(I’m not giving links to that nutjob anymore, but it is in the comments of his single YouTube video, and I can’t get google to stop sending me bloody notifications every time someone comments there, grr…)
Grabula – are you perhaps too young to understand what the press is supposed to be? Since the scientist about whom the Boulder article was written verified the accuracy herself in the comments, who are you to question it? And India’s media isn’t as corporate-influenced as our own at this point.
jsterritt – sorry. the post you seemed to think was for you was for Dr. Novella. I should have put his name on it. But I just saw your post on the study on Indian suicides so I understand what happened there now in my confusing the comments. I’m not saying that any one farmer killed himself or herself because his bt cotton failed. I’m saying that, even as was shown in the 2008 paper, bt cotton may very well have played a role in certain districts. And I’m trying to show that more recent research shows that bt cotton is indeed failing, so the weight of being a contributing factor can’t be lifted by protests that it was only about drought, or only about unscrupulous lenders, or overly enthusiastic farmers. As I said, it’s a complicated situation, and I see evidence that an inadequately developed and overpriced product could have played a role assisted by aggressive advertising and bad governmental policies (like the perverse incentive of financial compensation to the families of suicide victims). I could be wrong. But the Indian researchers still have to be answered. And I don’t see how anyone can rule out a role for bt cotton while at the same time trying to explain why it is that while the percentage of bt cotton in India grew to 95%, total cotton yields proportionately dropped, resistance and new pests flourished, and cotton farmers are leaving their farms.
Would you like to link me to The Lancet articles?
Re: Monsanto. Not sure why you’re reacting to what I’ve said in the way that you are. I did say “poor Monsanto” which was probably an uncalled-for bit of sarcasm. Sorry if that slight towards Monsanto offended you in some way. But why would you want to “provide proof that Monsanto is virtuous and innocent of all shenanigans.”? It would be hard to do that for any modern corporation.
You know, I meant to say in my earlier comments that we all here are having to rely on an ability to critically assess the reporting and research on this issue. I don’t know that anyone who isn’t there with a family affected by this can say exactly what the reasons are. So maybe I shouldn’t try to implicate bt cotton. But by that same reasoning, it’s wrong to claim outright that bt cotton had nothing to do with the controversy that has arisen. It’s a horrible thing, but there’s more money behind the motivation to absolve the seeds and blame the farmers or the weather than there is behind the motivation to implicate Monsanto. And of course we can have an argument about that too. Ideological motivation is what affects us here – we who indulge in parsing what for us is a distant tragedy. Maybe it’s better to ask: how can we prevent this? That’s when I start looking at the political and economic policies that were in place. And that puts it back to a bigger discussion than just the seeds. Anyway, again, sorry for any offense given. I just didn’t see the post I guess you thought I was responding to in my comment to Dr. Novella.
woah seriously? is it a new video? I believe he said the exact same thing here as well but don’t feel like searching. Guess it sounded good enough to him to post on youtube as well lol.
Don’t be naive. I’m ‘old enough’ to know that 1 – the press doesn’t make a good source for any type of evidence, and 2 – it doesn’t take corporate interest to spin news, that’s been going on long before I’m sure some conspiracy theory you believe in took over the media here in the west. You’re bias is showing, better pull your skeptical pants up.
grabula – “I’m sure a small local newspaper in a location who’s general leanings are no secret…”
So, for you the publication is more important than the content of the article – is that right? I’ll just suggest that extraneous factors shouldn’t inspire a true skeptic to presumptively write off any possible source of information. Credibility of content and author should come first to critical thinkers. But I will say, if you have more with regard to either of those, I’ll listen. But I don’t think I need to pull up my skeptical pants until I’m done pissing on your irrational reasoning.
“So, for you the publication is more important than the content of the article – is that right?”
No, but it shows bias. Just like wikipedia should be a jumping off point for research on the internet, newspapers aren’t a good source for any kind of evidence, especially when you take into account their leaning. YOU yourself indicate ‘india’s media isn’t as corporate influenced…’ meaning you know what I’m talking about but since it supports your own biases it’s ok in your book. Half or more of the articles you linked provided no source material for their information, making them useless as reference material. See jsterritt and Dr. Novella’s posts on what good sources are for information.
I’m guessing you wouldn’t just accept whatever CNN or MSNBC reports to you on a daily basis, why would a small time, biased paper in Boulder be any different.
“No, but it shows bias. Just like wikipedia should be a jumping off point for research on the internet but not a credible source itself, newspapers aren’t a good source for any kind of evidence, especially when you take into account their leaning.”
ok grabula. I think I see where you’re coming from. But here’s the thing. The article is reporting on an issue of recent research. It’s the start of a conversation which the researcher takes part in. That’s why I linked to it – and there’s no other reason. I’m not trying to support either side in the disagreements that ensue.
And with regards to the other newspaper articles – I would say the same. What exactly is the thing you need evidence for? And what kind of evidence would you need for this thing? Please be specific with your criticism of what I’ve linked to. Just the fact that it’s a newspaper article isn’t enough if a newspaper article is an appropriate means of providing information or context. I won’t say you don’t have a valid criticism, but apparently I don’t have the intellectual capacity to figure it out from what you’ve said so far. I’m sorry but I need more details. Thanks.
we’re having a discussion on GMO’s. Specifically you’re defending your belief that BT Cotton for example did harm in India and was of no benefit, supporting the misconception among anti-GMO’ers that BT Cotton contributed to farmer suicides in India. Your overall message is that GMO is bad, and Monsanto is bad. If this is not the case you’re misrepresenting yourself.
The pro GMO side has been posting links to studies showing GMO’s to be safe for human consumption (I don’t think anyone here is not advocating responsibility in this arena ongoing), you refute this by asking what is ‘safe’, for whom and how do you determine it. To support your argument (unless you’re just randomly pasting articles that appear to support your claim) you’re posting primarily newspaper articles lacking in source material and attributions to where they get their information. One could certainly glean this information in some of those but the articles themselves are not evidence in support of anything except that the writers appears to agree with you. In fact a few of those articles are commentaries on Monsantos perceived business practices – again with no actual evidence provided.
In essence, we’re (specifically jsterritt and Dr. Novella) are linking actual scientific papers and studies on the subject while you’re primarily linking opinion pieces.
You also make the common mistake of thinking the source is unimportant to the story. However the source is always going to provide some spin, especially when we’re talking about editorial content. You yourself have accused non-Indian media sources as being corporate influenced, which means you understand this concept so linking to those types of sources is disingenuous if you want to also turn around and claim pro GMO sources are biased.
“Definition needed for: modern farming practices, ancient farming practices and “natural”. ”
I am not getting involved in your semantic games, ultimately you have an agenda and from what I have read here it is very much ideological.
And I was going to write more, but I just picked up on your “I’ll just suggest that extraneous factors shouldn’t inspire a true skeptic to presumptively write off any possible source of information. ” comment. Really? You are going to accuse people here of not being true skeptics and imply heavily that you are? You are veering very dangerously into fullerm territory with your fallacy waving and skeptical arrogance.
“we’re having a discussion on GMO’s. Specifically you’re defending your belief that BT Cotton for example did harm in India and was of no benefit, supporting the misconception among anti-GMO’ers that BT Cotton contributed to farmer suicides in India. Your overall message is that GMO is bad, and Monsanto is bad. If this is not the case you’re misrepresenting yourself.”
What I’m saying is we can’t prove or dismiss bt cotton’s role. There’s motivated reasoning at work here on both sides. Let’s respect that fact and quit fighting Monsanto’s battles just because we love science. Investigative journalists, sociologists, agricultural scientists are piecing things together. Why is it so important for you and I to establish yea or nay that bt cotton is or isn’t problematic in India? That’s for India’s citizens to decide. Since the opinion on this site is: bt cotton has been an unmitigated success but for weather or risky behavior of farmers, I’m trying to provide a counterbalance. I understand the reaction to ranting by people like Mike Adams. But do you really want to go off the deep end in the other direction? If I have an overall message, it’s: no one can say “GMO is bad” or “Monsanto is bad”. And no one can say “GMO is good” or “Monsanto is good”. This isn’t the nature of these issues. I’ve acknowledged that the IFPRI paper was a good one in illuminating the complex nature of this. Why is the so-called skeptical reaction nothing more than to use the paper to defend industry reputation? We’re supposed to be dissecting these issues, not using the research to defend ideological commitments to a technology, separate from it’s implementation.
“The pro GMO side has been posting links to studies showing GMO’s to be safe for human consumption (I don’t think anyone here is not advocating responsibility in this arena ongoing), you refute this by asking what is ‘safe’, for whom and how do you determine it. To support your argument (unless you’re just randomly pasting articles that appear to support your claim) you’re posting primarily newspaper articles lacking in source material and attributions to where they get their information. One could certainly glean this information in some of those but the articles themselves are not evidence in support of anything except that the writers appears to agree with you. In fact a few of those articles are commentaries on Monsantos perceived business practices – again with no actual evidence provided.”
It would be impossible for anyone to link to a study showing GMOs to be safe for human consumption. There is no such research. Safety is assessed in a number of ways, and the salient assertion in this area is “we’ve been eating them for years and nothing’s happened” – if I have to explain to you why that isn’t scientific, then our conversation will become prohibitively long. And anyway, we haven’t been eating GMOs as GMOs at all. And no, I haven’t posted any newspaper articles that have anything to do with GMO safety. The newspaper articles are about cotton, which we don’t eat.
“In essence, we’re (specifically jsterritt and Dr. Novella) are linking actual scientific papers and studies on the subject while you’re primarily linking opinion pieces.”
Which subject? which links? which opinion pieces? Perhaps it would be best to let jsterritt and Dr. Novella respond on their part. It’s probably a mistake to try to talk about bt cotton in India and the safety of GMOs together in one discussion, but that’s what’s happened. And it’s only going to make it more confusing if I try to address other people’s comments in my reply to you. If you want to specifically talk about something that someone else said, please reference the particulars and tell me what you want to discuss.
“You also make the common mistake of thinking the source is unimportant to the story. However the source is always going to provide some spin, especially when we’re talking about editorial content. You yourself have accused non-Indian media sources as being corporate influenced, which means you understand this concept so linking to those types of sources is disingenuous if you want to also turn around and claim pro GMO sources are biased.”
What you’re saying is fair enough on it’s own. I absolutely agree that source is important. But if you want to refute a source, do it. Show the conflict of interest, financial ties, ideological bias or factual inaccuracy. Don’t just say I’m giving you a bad source on something because you don’t like what I’m saying. Disregard my links altogether if you like and just address what I have said for myself. I don’t care. But what is this argument between you and I? Is it just that you believe scientists have shown that GMOs are safe and that bt cotton in India has been a success and therefore you must disagree with me and find some way to criticize me? Hey, that’s ok. That’s what it’s all about. Rock on. And just so you know, when I don’t respond to your insults it’s because I don’t see that they have any merit in the discussion. Just want to acknowledge that so that when you’re enjoying yourself in that way you don’t have to worry that what you’re saying really makes any difference to me.
and anybody who posts here has some kind of agenda, even if it’s just a social or psychological agenda. Or, maybe in the case of fullerm it’s – well, I don’t know. Just what exactly was that all about?
“What I’m saying is we can’t prove or dismiss bt cotton’s role.”
I put together a paper for a class about 6 months ago that addressed this. I don’t have it handy but the numbers showed no significant increase in farmer suicides (which were already common due to practices associated with land owners and borrowers). As well as this, it’s been shown BT cotton was much more successful than standard crops. It’s popularity increased in leaps and bounds due to its successes.
“There’s motivated reasoning at work here on both sides. ”
Including Indian newspapers…India isn’t ecluded from credulous and biased thinking.
“…fighting Monsanto’s battles just because we love science.”
I’m fighting a battle for a technology that will prove to be extremely important to an ever growing population and ever shrinking world. How about let’s not succumb to the naturalistic fallacy because we don’t understand the science behind GMO’s?
“Why is it so important for you and I to establish yea or nay that bt cotton is or isn’t problematic in India?”
It’s important for us to establish honest discussion, and not spread emotional appeals based on lies and misunderstanding. We fight this fight for the same reason we fight against crappy woo modalities and misinformation based around ridiculously credulous conspiracy theories.
“I’m trying to provide a counterbalance.”
You’re JAQing off not providing honest, unbiased understanding of the issues.
” But do you really want to go off the deep end in the other direction? If I have an overall message, it’s: no one can say “GMO is bad” or “Monsanto is bad”. And no one can say “GMO is good” or “Monsanto is good”.”
This is nonsensical and misses the point of the discussion entirely. While science based rational thinkers are following the science, anti-GMO activists continue to build a fantasy world based around a whole list of fallacies I don’t need to go into here. The issue of whether GMO’s are good or bad, or safe or unsafe, is important.
“Why is the so-called skeptical reaction…”
You’re ‘skeptical’ pants are down again.
“It would be impossible for anyone to link to a study showing GMOs to be safe for human consumption. There is no such research. Safety is assessed in a number of ways, and the salient assertion in this area is “we’ve been eating them for years and nothing’s happened” – if I have to explain to you why that isn’t scientific, then our conversation will become prohibitively long”
You and sonic both excel at trying to manipulate semantics in order to cloud the issue. No matter where you want to move the goalposts mlema, the fact is they can and have been shown to be useful and safe. Will you move into the realm of the Fullerton’s of the world and demand exact models in real time reflecting every bit of minutiae in order to feel that something has been properly studied? This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works and operates. It’s never 100% sure, but consensus is built after evidence is got to form educated opinions. I won’t discuss the semantics with you on what is or isn’t safe, I’ll leave that to those who feel indulging that sort of behavior amounts to anything worth bothering with.
“Which subject? which links? which opinion pieces? Perhaps it would be best to let jsterritt and Dr. Novella respond on their part.”
Even for you mlema this is too disingenuous. Reading through this thread, or those specific posts including this blog posts and others by Dr. Novella provides all you need on the subject.
” Show the conflict of interest, financial ties, ideological bias or factual inaccuracy. Don’t just say I’m giving you a bad source on something because you don’t like what I’m saying”
I did, feel free to go back and read my posts. I won’t play the ‘please do what you’ve already done’ game. This is really common from you guys on this blog – bother to read the posts addressed to your or don’t, but don’t reply and ask for what’s already been given, often from multiple people.
Ultimately mlema, when you argue a specific point, especially here, you need to bring your A game. Understanding the basics of logical fallacies, what makes good and bad evidence or good and bad studies etc… is a requirement to get anywhere. More importantly understanding your biases goes a long way towards trying to make a point. I don’t’ have an particular biases or investments in GMO, it’s promising and so far the science supports it’s use. If tomorrow it turned out GMO’s are as horrible as some claim, I’d certainly be happy to move on, but that evidence has to exist and it has to be robust. You should try approaching it this way, you might find life a little easier on you.
“ok Bruce. But you’re the one who accused me of making some claim about natural farming practices or something like that. So the “semantics” excuse is kinda thin.”
I suppose you didn’t. Your posts are tend to be very long and I often rely on other people’s summaries and responses to get the essence of them when I am tired. I guess I jumped on Rez’s characterisation of you and I see you made no such assertions in this thread, so I apologise.
I based the “natural farming methods” notion on previous conversations with Mlema, who has indicated a predilection for previous farming methods that utilize less technology and greater numbers of local, smaller farms with less reliance on pesticides, and even moving more toward subsistence farming. Mlema, correct me if I’m wrong on these. If necessary, I’ll pull some examples.
In case there is any question as to Mlemas biases:
On GMO and Organics:
“Being skeptical of a number of applications of genetic modification, especially as practiced by Monsanto”
“You can say there are thousands of independent published studies that corroborate that GMOs are safe, but that doesn’t make it true”
“By trashing the USDA organic label, Dr. Novella is undermining an area where independent farmers can still turn a good profit while being good stewards.”
“Big ag/chemical/biotech don’t like USDA organic because it cuts into their profits.”
“If anyone wants to be a “skeptic” with regards to our grocery store shelves, they need to wise up to where the $ are. And they can’t be fooled by sciency-looking sites like “Academics Review”.”
“What I’m suggesting is that a healthy organic diet is healthier than a healthy non-organic diet due to the presence of pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in conventionally grown foods”
“I can’t think of any GMOs that supposedly provide benefit beyond conventional breeding that aren’t more cheaply and quickly created through conventional breeding.”
“Of course i don’t expect, or even want skeptics to agree with me. I guess you want me to agree with you?”
“But this idea that ‘the usda organic label is meaningless’ comes straight from the big food corporations, and seems to be adopted without much analysis by many here”
“good people, and bad people…False dichotomy.”
“People are people. Moral behavior exists on a continuum.”
In case there’s any concern I’m cherry picking, I am, but to get context all you need to do is search GMO on this blog then search for mlema under any of those threads to get more.
I had assumed so, hence me making comments without actually reading his post on this thread. I have observed those discussions, but I am really not in a position (time wise) to trawl through the site to pick out articles where he has commented, so felt it easier to apologise in this instance.
Just to be clear, I am not saying your characterisation is right or wrong, it is just not one I can back up at this moment in time so I am backing down due to a big fat case of WORK and CBA.
You certainly are a slippery thing. I respectfully decline to play your semantic and disingenuous games, or do the colossal pile of homework you’ve assigned, or learn your new, special definitions of words I thought I already knew. Your goalposts move too quickly for my vision to track. As Grabula pointed out, you are wildly misrepresenting and misremembering yourself. Most maddening is your “dumb and innocent” act (“all I’m saying is we can’t prove or dismiss bt cotton’s role”). Can’t argue with someone who can’t be bothered to remember their own words or figure out who they are responding to (easy enough to see, right up there on the page) — so I won’t. It’s too bad you can’t be bothered to learn how to have a good argument following the usual rules, protocols, and (of course), logic…you seem like a nice person.
The Daily Show, in their coverage of India’s election, showed how column space in many popular newspapers can be bought and paid for by candidates. It appears to be some sort of culturally accepted (or at least tolerated) practice. So it is no shock to me that Monsanto would use this type of publicity (I would). Speaking of sh***y newspapers, the Daily Mail (along with its news syndicate) is one of the worst offenders in the retailing of the Indian farmer “genocide” myth. I’m sure there are a couple of good newspapers out there, but it is a field that is famously unreliable and infamously unscrupulous. CounterPunch (Mlema’s answer to The Lancet) lauds itself for its “radical muckraking.”
I’ve been reading this blog and following/applying skepticism regularly enough to wince at terms like “Big science” and “Big pharma” etc. Oh how I only wish there was a “big science!” Can you imagine a secret cadre of all-powerful individuals and organizations pushing a scientific agenda? Sign me the fuck up.
Anyway, what I don’t get though–and I sincerely would like an explanation, is how would you refer then, to something like the active forces that have deliberately driven and achieved wealth disparity in the U.S.A? This is just an example, but unlike the Big Pharma or Big Science or Big whatever other conspiracy–this issue of wealth consolidation does seem like a genuine example of a select group of powerful people purposefully setting out to own more, undermine social infrastructure, change the public discourse with odd doublespeak– “tax relief”–and generally just give all the money to the smallest percentage of people.
So, in this case, where lawmakers, businesspeople, judges and politicians ARE in fact colluding to what I would consider an evil end, would the skeptic stance still be reluctant to call this Big… whatever?
Just curious. In 8 years of reading this is probably my 3rd post so I hope someone responds in earnest.
Bruce – you absolutely don’t need to apologize to me, but thanks. I need to apologize to you for not seeing that your comment was indeed just a reply to Rez, who had apparently inadvertently mischaracterized something I said somewhere on an earlier page. I’m tired too. I wish you fortitude in accomplishing your work.
Rez: “I based the “natural farming methods” notion on previous conversations with Mlema, who has indicated a predilection for previous farming methods that utilize less technology and greater numbers of local, smaller farms with less reliance on pesticides, and even moving more toward subsistence farming. Mlema, correct me if I’m wrong on these. If necessary, I’ll pull some examples.”
Please pull some examples Rez. I don’t recall ever supporting “natural farming methods” (what is that?) or especially subsistence farming. No one should support subsistence farming. I support the use of any and all technology that improves agricultural yield, sustainability and preservation of the soil, water, animal environment. I do support local, but I’m indifferent to size. I support farming methods that diversify and integrate pest management as opposed to monoculture and synthetic inputs. But I try not to be overly idealistic, and in the end the most important thing in my eyes is the food and the farmers. If it were impossible to improve environmental safety and sustainability without hurting the food or the farmer, of course I wouldn’t stand on principle there. But I don’t see any evidence that those things are exclusive to each other though. Thank goodness.
(this sounds like a recording for an organic or socialist association or something, but I don’t know how else to distill my viewpoint on something that’s actually a pretty big topic)
jsterrit – 2x now you’ve said that after you provided support for your claim that bt cotton in no way contributed to Indian farmers suicides by ‘giving me The Lancet’, and that my answer to you was “The Counterpunch” link.
First of all, I hadn’t even seen your post with any mention of the Lancet when I gave a link to the Coutnerpunch in a comment to Dr. Novella, not to you.
Secondly, you never “gave me the Lancet” – you gave me an opinion piece which had a couple of short quotes from Lancet papers in it – and those quotes weren’t footnoted anywhere.
Thirdly, I asked you if you’d like to link me to the Lancet papers and you’ve declined.
Fourthly, I’ve actually spent time trying to locate the papers myself and can’t.
Fifthly, chuck the Counterpunch if you want to – I don’t know why I linked to it anyway except that the actual article was by the award-winning Indian journalist Palagummi Sainath and went to illustrating how bt cotton was deceitfully promoted, by whomever promoted it. All three of the links I provided in that particular comment to Dr. Novella speak to the credibility of the claims made to Indian farmers about the value of bt cotton – and had nothing to do with statistics on the suicides. The third link showed that “Objections raised by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)…forced GM crop major Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) to modify an advertisement that claimed Bollgard variety of Bt cotton has led to a significant increase in farmers’ income.”
So why are you saying 2x that you give me the Lancet and I give you Counterpunch as an answer? Are you really that confused? C’mon man. You gave me no Lancet, and I didn’t answer anything at all given to me, by you, when I linked to Counterpunch.
Also, I didn’t reference “The Daily Mail” anywhere – did I inadvertently reference its news syndicates? If not, what are you implying?
You’ve accused me of all kinds of stuff there. Now how about you? Are you ready to actually say something substantial with regards to “the good word of the AAAS, AMA, FDA, WHO, and virtually every health and regulatory body of experts on the planet”? What is the good word? Dr. Novella said that these organizations say “GMOs are safe”. Show me their good words. I looked at the pieces you linked to. Help me understand why what you think these organizations are saying should be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the safety of GMOs. You can’t just list a bunch of organizations and imply that they say that say GMOs are safe without at least showing me where they say it. And since there are whole books on this subject – just pick something you think best supports your belief and break it down for me a little. Give me some evidence of the claim at least – then we can address the scientific evidence and its validity. What you’re implying is that these organizations are saying GMOs are safe, and that because they’re saying that, you’re saying that too. So don’t leave me hanging on this argument from authority. At least show me the claims they make for me to look at.
So here’s where you “gave me The Lancet”:
you limited it to these quotes, with no reference as to where they came from. I even tried to find the papers myself. Keith Kloor (who included the quotes on his opinion piece without references is quoted all over the blogosphere, but I can’t find the original sources of his quotes. Maybe you can do that and contribute to the legitimacy of what Kloor is saying.
“Bt cotton has been all the rage in India since it was officially approved in 2002. The technology has been adopted by over 90% of Indian cotton farmers. Multiple studies point to significant reduction in pesticide spraying and subsequent cost savings for cotton farmers. (Similar findings attest to the same in China, where Bt cotton accounts for 80% of its crop.) India’s agricultural minister said in 2012 that the country “has harvested an average of 5.1 million tons of cotton per year, which is well above the highest production of 3 million tons before the introduction of Bt cotton.” India is the world’s second-biggest cotton producer, behind China.”
That’s interesting, because it’s also the agricultural minister who distributed an advisory to cotton growing states saying “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers,” and “In fact cost of cotton cultivation has jumped…due to rising costs of pesticides. Total Bt cotton production in the last five years has reduced,” and that “The note is based on observations from the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, which administers farm science, and the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country’s top cotton research facility.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/ministry-blames-bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/article1-830798.aspx
Weight this as you will because the ministry won’t confirm or deny. But please at least provide as much information as I have about where these quotes are coming from.
“A 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that in India “the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes.”
A 2014 review published in The Conversation looks at the numbers: “In 2001 (before Bt cotton was introduced) the suicide rate was 31.7 per 100,000 and in 2011 the corresponding estimate was 29.3 – only a minor difference.”
Please provide the research/reference on this. Who’s calorie consumption increased? How was this determined? Where are the stats on increased family income and it’s link to bt cotton? Monsanto was charged with false advertising for inaccurate representation of income increase from bt cotton. I can’t just read these quotes and be convinced that bt cotton was an unmitigated success. not when i see boots on the ground reporting failed bt cotton planted next to thriving non-gmo cotton. Talking about an increase in calorie consumption due to bt cotton is no different that talking about a suicide increase due to bt cotton – there has to be some evaluation of the claims. And what does this suicide rate reflect? These suicide/population stats have a notoriously large margin of error. As I mentioned before, Indian journalists have said that government population statistics in India are often not up-to-date. or are skewed by numerous factors.
Unfortunately, if we want to use these sorts of statistics to try to show that there was no increase in suicide due to bt cotton, we have to very carefully look at each suicide claimed to be related to bt cotton. That’s been done in some reports that I’ve read for individual villages. And what is shown, which I’ve already said, is: people don’t typically say outright: he killed himself because the cotton failed. It’s always a downstream reason: he couldn’t pay his daughter’s dowry (a disgrace). He couldn’t repay the loan he took against the property. And these reasons come back to: he invested everything in what he believed would be a good cash crop return – and since the crop didn’t do as well as advertised, and since he had to spend as much or more than usual on inputs, and since the markets failed and what he could get for what he did produce was far below what he was led to expect – and, most perversely, he maybe found out that if he killed himself his family might get some money from the government – he ended his life. So, in the end, the bt cotton, and everything it entailed, became a contributor to some suicides. And this is why I contend that it’s erroneous to suggest that bt cotton has only been a benefit in India. Espeially in light of the evidence that overall yields have dropped as the % of bt cotton has increased. But there are 2 sources of stats on yield – and they give opposing results. One is the International Cotton Advisory Board, and the other is ISAAA. So you can believe what you want, but the ISAAA is the industry source.
So, you’re attempting to show that suicides were not due to bt cotton. I’m attempting to show that bt cotton likely played a role in a number of cases. These aren’t diametrically opposed viewpoints. But how do we decide which is closer to truth? And if there’s no scientific way to determine that – is it right for people like Keith Kloor, Dr. Novella, and many other pro-industry pundits to report that there were no suicides due to bt cotton? I’m just an anonymous blogger, no one needs to give much credibility or apparently even attention, to anything I say. But I say what I do because I think that Dr. Novella has a certain public credibility which he here uses in a way that distorts the science and the complex nature of a bad situation – and all apparently due to an unknowing adoption of the industry’s rhetoric. Skeptics are supposed to be analytical.
I absolutely don’t believe that Monsanto, or anyone at Monsanto, had any idea that this tragedy would unfold as it did. And they shouldn’t be expected to shoulder any blame beyond irresponsibly and indiscriminately promoting a product that wasn’t good for all Indian cotton farmers. In the US, Monsanto works with farmers to try to manage problems related to the use of their technology. That didn’t happen in india. And the Indian farmers have always been eager to adopt new technology – even to the point of abandoning their knowledge in that area http://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/research/stone/stone480102.web.pdf
I think it’s ideological to speak about GMOs in all-inclusive ways. Or to talk about evil and goodness in the business world. What I think we have are better or worse laws, regulations, attitudes and practices. And individuals who operate with more or less information within these systems.
Grabula, I really like talking to you. You’ve accused me of “playing innocent”. But I think that you really ARE innocent. Unfortunately, even though I enjoy talking to you, I can’t really do it anymore because you’re not giving me anything to respond to. Tell you what – if you want to keep trying to apply your comments to what I’m actually saying, I’ll keep reading your comments. And when I see that you’ve actually reflected an understanding of what I’m saying, we’ll talk again. The fact that you don’t understand what I’m saying may be more my fault that yours. But either way, we have no meeting of the minds. It makes for difficult communication. My ability falls short and so I must excuse myself from replying to your comments at this time.
“I support the use of any and all technology that improves agricultural yield, sustainability and preservation of the soil, water, animal environment”
” But I try not to be overly idealistic, and in the end the most important thing in my eyes is the food and the farmers”
This is definitely not how you represent yourself. See my list of quotes from you above.
“First of all, I hadn’t even seen your post with any mention of the Lancet when I gave a link to the Coutnerpunch in a comment to Dr. Novella, not to you.”
This detail is unimportant to the bigger picture – that you consider counterpunch and other papers like it, a good source for evidence. The overwhelming issue regardless of who you meant it for is that popular media is not a good source for reference except as I already pointed out – a possible jumping off point to real research. None of those links you provided delivered that.
“All three of the links I provided in that particular comment to Dr. Novella speak to the credibility of the claims made to Indian farmers about the value of bt cotton – and had nothing to do with statistics on the suicides.”
These are business practices, and have nothing to do with the efficacy of GMO’s, not to mention again, they are opinion pieces.
” Show me their good words. I looked at the pieces you linked to. Help me understand why what you think these organizations are saying should be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the safety of GMOs.”
This, along with your games of semantics is what kills most of the arguments you make Mlema. This request is intellectually lazy, you are in essence saying ‘I can’t be bothered to do the footwork, you do it for me’. You’re making claims and backing them up with opinion pieces. On the flip side you’ve been provided with credible scientific sources on the argument for GMO. Is it that you don’t have time because you’re too busy looking for pieces to back your point of view, regardless of source? This is a serious problem with the anti-GMO crowd. As with a lot of other sacred cows, they can’t be bothered by facts and sources that might refute what they say, too busy trying to prop up their own arguments to understand the other side.
“That’s interesting, because it’s also the agricultural minister…”
Again Mlema, a story in a local news paper does not evidence make. So what? Some guy made a statement about BT Cotton that suits your view point? Where’s his source material? It didn’t take me long writing my paper to find numbers on Indian Farmer suicides and the effectiveness of BT Cotton when I was doig my research, why can’t he be bothered?
“Weight this as you will because the ministry won’t confirm or deny.”
It’s absolutely meaningless without source data. I won’t repeat this again.
“Unfortunately, if we want to use these sorts of statistics to try to show that there was no increase in suicide due to bt cotton, we have to very carefully look at each suicide claimed to be related to bt cotton.”
Fullerton, is that you? You asbolutely do not have to model or research every suicide in order to determine what the source was. In fact, unless every single suicide left a note describing in detail why they killed themselves you’re only dealing in speculation. Instead, you take the scientific approach and take a look at the number of suicides over a period leading up to the integration of BT Cotton, then examine the numbers after BT cotton integration. You effectively want to find a single suicide note saying ‘BT Cotton ruined my life’ so you can point and say aha! I was right BT cotton IS involved!
“I absolutely don’t believe that Monsanto, or anyone at Monsanto, had any idea that this tragedy would unfold as it did.”
I see you’ve just decided to lose your skeptical pants altogether. Whatever narrative supports your claims.
” The fact that you don’t understand what I’m saying may be more my fault that yours.”
This is a common theme with you Mlema, you, like sonic confuse an issue so much it’s hard to follow for anyone. You flip flop on your meanings, try to redefine words as you see fit and cant’ seem to understand why say, posting links to newspaper articles isn’t evidence. The issue is not that I don’t understand where you’re coming from – you’ve made that pretty obvious. What I won’t do is put up with the BS some of you guys throw out that does not conform to consistency in language or message.
I am seriously considering making a hefty editorial revision to my (not grabula’s) characterization of you as “dumb and innocent.” I think I can cut it down by more than half.
You have a world of patience. I’m enjoying your replies immensely, so I hope you don’t tire soon. Btw, why does Mlema keep taking swipes at your age and experience. Does he think you are 12? If you are indeed a fifth grader, there’s plenty of work for you on Biologica these days.
Mlema plays coy often. ‘I like you/what you’re saying but now I’m going to dismiss you out of hand’ stuff. It’s childish but generally I just ignore it. He’s part of a small slice of commentor’s here who require a lot of patience to deal with. I can’t get a read on whether they really don’t understand how discombobulated they’re comments really are. They show similar characteristics, a propensity to want to redefine the meaning of words ( in this case ‘safe’ ), misunderstand burden of proof and often don’t want to bother indulging in a little research into the other side.
Mlema in this particular instance is steeped in the anti-gmo, pro organic crowd. Rez called him out on the natural thing because whether he has said it or not, he implies it most often. I posted a sampling of mlema’s past posts on this very topic and as you can see he definitely has a bias.
The irony in my opinion is that these guys and girls who hold biases so strong they’re like blinders, often accuse us skeptics as being blind. They start by putting skeptic in scare quotes or saying things like ‘you skeptics’ as if that somehow validates that we’re not ACTUAL skeptics.
I think Devil’s Gummy, mumadadd and a few others have talked about this ad nauseum in the past but most of us who call ourselves skeptics follow the evidence, this often involves a consensus, which is a concept woo believers find confusing. For example, when it comes to GMO, I think its got an awesome potential for solving a lot of issues. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be vetted and studied on a continuous basis for certainly there is some potential for harm. However, so far it seems it’s panning out to be extremely useful. Golden Rice, BT Cotton and so on have had huge positive impacts around the world.
That’s not to say something can’t go wrong, and if it does I’ll certainly acknowledge that. the anti-GMO crowd will almost certainly go insane with proclamations of utter and complete failure but that’s the rational difference isn’t it? I won’t go with my gut, or my feeling that nature knows best. If this were true we wouldn’t be living well into our 80′s and 90′s these days and living longer healthier lives overall. Modern science isn’t perfect to be sure but you have to move with the evidence. This I believe is mlema’s issue, he’s having a hard time moving past the idea that maybe, just maybe his natural inclination towards ‘natural’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
About 6 months ago I decided to write a paper for a class on GMO’s. I didn’t know as much as I did now and I chose to focus on BT Cotton in India and Golden Rice in Africa. I only knew a little bit going into it. I found that you really have to slog through the anti-GMO rhetoric to really get down to the kernels of truth. Those people flood the internet with all sorts of garbage. It makes some sense though if you look at how popular supplements, dieting and anything resembling ‘all natural’.
Anyway, jsterritt you won’t make a dent, regardless of how much information you post. Notice he’s already begun to slide the goalposts. He now wants you to do the work. He doesn’t ‘understand’ your points so you need to break it down for him barney style so he can continue to comfortably dodge the issue altogether. It get’s tiresome.
rez sez: (from the dinosaur thread) “As a skeptic, I’m concerned not only with having evidence, but the quality of evidence. Having standards of evidence is obviously a big part of being a skeptic”
This is an important point I’ve already grown tired of repeating on this thread. Woo believers use dubious sources, like say newspaper articles, to provide evidence without understanding why they aren’t credible sources of information.
For example Mlema has posted the article twice from hindunews. A quick perusal or thorough reading of the article shows there’s nothing like actual data in it. When this is mentioned or brought up somehow it’s not western media so it’s ok. Later he points out that the article states the Agricultural minister of India posted some warnings on BT Cotton, again misunderstanding that this STILL ISN’T evidence for anything. There’s no follow up links to papers backing up his claim. Never mind the issues with near third world governments and corruption.
But that’s the point, so far we have a couple of news articles and some unsubstantiated claims of farmer suicides to support an anti-GMO stance. No science, no rigorous studies, no peer reviewed journal papers.
The ultimate irony is that Mlema has posted a couple of PDF’s, a couple of sources are from free from GMO type sources, and one even points out BT Cotton’s successes lol. All the while screaming about fixed research from the pro-GMO side. It’s so blindly dogmatic as to be laughable but most of the time I just want to get drunk and forget it.
M- “I support the use of any and all technology that improves agricultural yield, sustainability and preservation of the soil, water, animal environment….But I try not to be overly idealistic, and in the end the most important thing in my eyes is the food and the farmers”
G- “This is definitely not how you represent yourself. See my list of quotes from you above.”
There is absolutely no contradiction between what I’m saying now and what i’ve said in the past. If you think there is, tell me what it is. Don’t’ just say “This is definitely not how you represent yourself.” Give me the quotes you think contradict each other. You’re just making implications and insinuations.
M-”First of all, I hadn’t even seen your post with any mention of the Lancet when I gave a link to the Coutnerpunch in a comment to Dr. Novella, not to you….All three of the links I provided in that particular comment to Dr. Novella speak to the credibility of the claims made to Indian farmers about the value of bt cotton – and had nothing to do with statistics on the suicides.”
G -”This detail is unimportant to the bigger picture – that you consider counterpunch and other papers like it, a good source for evidence. The overwhelming issue regardless of who you meant it for is that popular media is not a good source for reference except as I already pointed out – a possible jumping off point to real research. None of those links you provided delivered that…These are business practices, and have nothing to do with the efficacy of GMO’s, not to mention again, they are opinion pieces.”
You’re right, the details are unimportant. The important issue was: a respected journalist’s revealed deceptive advertising of bt cotton. That is pertinent, and isn’t information you get through scientific research. Also, a news report which included communications from India’s Ministry of Agriculture. And since when does false advertising (as charged by the Advertising Standards Council of India) become “business practices”? And yes, it does have something to do with the efficacy of GMOs – because there was a difference between the claimed efficacy and the real efficacy. And if you don’t like my sources on that particular issue – then disregard it altogether. It doesn’t reflect on the other sources i’ve used in reference to other issues. Please address anything I said, instead of just saying that I’ve used bad sources for non-scientific information, and then saying that all the information I provide and everything else I’ve said is invalid. That’s a fallacious approach to your goal of portraying what I’m saying as unsupportable.
M – “Show me their good words. I looked at the pieces you linked to. Help me understand why what you think these organizations are saying should be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the safety of GMOs.”
G – “This, along with your games of semantics is what kills most of the arguments you make Mlema. This request is intellectually lazy, you are in essence saying ‘I can’t be bothered to do the footwork, you do it for me’… You’re making claims and backing them up with opinion pieces. On the flip side you’ve been provided with credible scientific sources on the argument for GMO. Is it that you don’t have time because you’re too busy looking for pieces to back your point of view, regardless of source? This is a serious problem with the anti-GMO crowd. As with a lot of other sacred cows, they can’t be bothered by facts and sources that might refute what they say, too busy trying to prop up their own arguments to understand the other side.”
I’ve read the organization statements and information jsterritt linked to. Most of them were already familiar to me. A couple of them are books, which I’ve read some of. It’s not up to me to show how they don’t support a blanket endorsement of GMO safety – in fact, a number of those sources make statements contrary to what jsterritt and Dr. Novella are claiming they say. It’s up to you, or jsterritt, or Dr. Novella, or whomever else is making this same argument from authority, to show how what the organizations are saying is a blanket endorsement of GMO safety. That needs to start with locating the statements saying “GMOs are safe” Why is that too much to ask? Can you see that saying “GMOs are safe because xyz says so” without actually providing the words xyz have said which mean: “GMOs are safe”? Hey, let’s talk about it. Maybe I missed something. You say “you’ve been provided with credible scientific sources on the argument for GMO”. Well, I don’t need an “argument for GMO” because I support the technology for a number of applications. I’ve asked Dr. Novella to provide evidence for his statement that “GMOs are safe”. He hasn’t provided that. Do you want to give it a try? If you want to start with the sources jsterritt has provided, that would be fine. Before you accuse me again of not doing any footwork – take some time yourself to read these sources and find where they say GMOs are safe. The burden is on you to show that someone with authority is saying “GMOs are safe”. We can go from there to examine scientific validity.
M- “That’s interesting, because it’s also the agricultural minister…”
G- “Again Mlema, a story in a local news paper does not evidence make. So what? Some guy made a statement about BT Cotton that suits your view point? Where’s his source material? It didn’t take me long writing my paper to find numbers on Indian Farmer suicides and the effectiveness of BT Cotton when I was doig my research, why can’t he be bothered?”
Please read that comment to jsterritt again more carefully, you’re mixing things all together. It wasn’t “some guy” – it was India’s agricultural minister, who sent an advisory to cotton growing states. The newspaper that reported this had a copy of the advisory. The advisory said “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers,” and it also said “In fact cost of cotton cultivation has jumped…due to rising costs of pesticides. Total Bt cotton production in the last five years has reduced,” and this advisory was “based on observations from the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, which administers farm science, and the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country’s top cotton research facility.” I’m kinda glad you asked about it now that I look at what I wrote to jsterritt earlier because I see now I didn’t write it quite clearly. Thanks. But please, what in the world are you basing your accusation of the reporter on? It’s not his job to research the suicide stats and effectiveness of bt cotton when the story he’s relating is about what the agricultural minister said, and that the minister’s advisory was based on observations from the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, which administers farm science, and the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country’s top cotton research facility. Are you asserting that you have better information in your paper than the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences or the Central Cotton Research Institute has? Can you please go ahead and locate that paper and post that information? I think this might be important to the discussion. Seriously.
OK, I can’t respond to the rest right now due to time. But I’ll try to find time tomorrow. Remind me if I forget.
That’s a grand total of <1.5 seconds of search time. You cannot be that dense, clueless, or unable to type or you wouldn't be here (I mean you literally wouldn't have been able to use a computer to post comments here). Ergo, you are being disingenuous. Your pants are on fire. I await with bemused anticipation your next evasion, next repositioning of the goalposts, next sad fail. (What I'm really looking forward to is glossing over your next empty ramble and reading @grabula give you yer comeuppance.)
“There is absolutely no contradiction between what I’m saying now and what I’ve said in the past.”
“Give me the quotes you think contradict each other.”
Yet above those you quote me: “This is definitely not how you represent yourself. See my list of quotes from you above.”
So what’s the problem here? Did you not see the second part of my sentence where I invite you to look at my list of selected quotes from you? Could you not find that post from me? I literally gave you quotes stating your stance BEFORE you asked for quotes. You contradict yourself because while saying you support any and all technology etc you’re stance is firmly and obviously anti-GMO, and as of yet with no good reason then you buy into the Indian suicides lie.
“The important issue was: a respected journalist’s revealed deceptive advertising of bt cotton.”
They expressed some opinions, failed to provide support for those opinions.
“That is pertinent, and isn’t information you get through scientific research”
No, it’s claims of bad business practices and again, unsubstantiated.
” And since when does false advertising (as charged by the Advertising Standards Council of India) become “business practices”?”
Seriously? Mlema, I need you to answer two questions for me and I need you to focus for a moment. 1 – Do you understand why a newspaper article with no supporting evidence for claims made does not support an argument? 2 – If false advertising isn’t ‘bad business’ what is it?
I absolutely cannot press forward until you answer these questions.
I’m asking you to take a look at it, and explain to me how it is different from the links you posted. I’m not asking you to read the article, though it’s short and sweet. There’s a glaring difference in how this article is put together and the articles you posted are put together. Can you identify what that is?
Although not about GMOs per se, last week’s Science features a special section called “Slicing the Wheat Genome.” It is about “the importance of applying scientific knowledge to develop crop varieties.” I recommend reading it to anyone seeking to understand why science’s role in agriculture cannot be divorced from it for reasons of convenience or ideology.
jsterritt said: “I typed “genetically modified plosone” into Google. 0.39 seconds later (drumming fingers) it returned this as the first hit: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064879
I typed “conversation india suicide” into Google. 0.42 seconds later (sigh) it returned this as the first hit: http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-does-gm-cotton-lead-to-farmer-suicide-in-india-24045
That’s a grand total of <1.5 seconds of search time. You cannot be that dense, clueless, or unable to type or you wouldn't be here (I mean you literally wouldn't have been able to use a computer to post comments here). Ergo, you are being disingenuous. Your pants are on fire. I await with bemused anticipation your next evasion, next repositioning of the goalposts, next sad fail. (What I'm really looking forward to is glossing over your next empty ramble and reading @grabula give you yer comeuppance.)"
Well, I didn't look for those papers, so I guess you spent more time locating them than I did. But you should be very proud of your proficiency with the googler. Good for you!
me: “I’ll try to find time to respond in the next day or two.”
jsterritt: "Oh, for the love of all things, please don’t."
LOL – you are a bit of a drama queen aren't you? Reminder: your participation in this discussion is voluntary.
So, was there something about the Lancet paper that was new and important that you wanted me to see? Or was it just those extracted quotes? Or was it just the whole thing about 'I give you the Lancet and you give me Counterpunch'? Boy it sure is easy to waste time here.
PS – That PLOS paper is one of the most twisted pieces of reasoning I've seen in a long time. It makes me want to pull my hair out. I see why Kloor didn't provide a link to that paper. What a bunch of BS.
grabula – “I absolutely cannot press forward until you answer these questions”
LOL ok, I don’t want you to not be able to press forward
“1 – Do you understand why a newspaper article with no supporting evidence for claims made does not support an argument? ”
It depends on the argument. So I’ll explain both a “no” answer and a “yes” answer.
No. Newspapers report the news: events, quotes, etc. If the news is evidence for “claims made”, then it’s appropriate support for an argument (as long as it’s accurately represented by the arguer) Newspapers are considered reputable sources of information – although the reputability varies widely and is usually connected to the reputation of the paper or reporter. It’s a little tricky because the nature of reporting the news is vulnerable to human error. Investigative journalism requires tighter management of evidence.
Yes. Newspapers aren’t an appropriate place to publish scholarly papers which require bibliographies and footnotes.
Also – newspapers aren’t supposed to be written to influence public opinion or promote causes or personal interests. So, I’m not sure why you would ask me about claims made to support an argument. Newspapers report the news, they don’t make arguments (except on the editorial pages)
My question to you: Is a blog site a good place to form your scientific opinions?
“2 – If false advertising isn’t ‘bad business’ what is it?”
False advertising is definitely bad business. And in the case of Monsanto’s false advertising in India, the consequences were possibly very bad. Monsanto falsely advertised that cotton farmers who were planting bt were experiencing a great increase in income. This likely encouraged farmers to do whatever they had to do to get the seeds in the ground, hoping for a better future. It’s not the first time Monsanto has had some problems with the truth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#False_advertising
Now one little question for you: wtf does any of this have to do with the original topic of discussion? Quiz time is over. If you don’t have anything to say – like why you think it’s scientifically supportable to say “GMOs are safe”, then I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you to try to figure out for yourself what a newspaper is, and what false advertising is.
on second thought – don’t think I’ll be back. So thanks for the discussion and good luck to you in all your endeavors.
” Newspapers are considered reputable sources of information – although the reputability varies widely and is usually connected to the reputation of the paper or reporter.”
You’re still trying to have your cake and eat it too here Mlema. You’ll cry all day about the credibility of our sources – say the Lancet, a respected medical journal, and in the same breath refer to random newspapers in India.
“My question to you: Is a blog site a good place to form your scientific opinions? ”
The same criteria stand for any source of evidence. First, the source you reference must provide support for whatever statement it is trying to make. If it’s blog with no actual data