Agricultural pesticides cause autism? Don’t hold your breath.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you would think that I spend a lot of time discussing autism spectrum disorders (ASD). But the goals of this blog is weed out and debunk pseudoscientific beliefs, especially some of the more popular ones.

Probably the most ridiculous belief about autism is the claim that vaccines cause autism, something that was fraudulently invented by a charlatan, and has been thoroughly debunked by real scientific evidence.

You’d think that the belief about vaccines and autism would be completely gone by now, right? Well, not really. Irrational and, frankly cult-like, groups such as Age of Autism refuse to give up. Of course, the Age of Autism is so deluded by their illogical and unscientific beliefs, they oppose funding for genetic research into autism.

For reasons beyond the scope of this blog and my interests, parents need to find blame for why their children may have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  About three years ago, Emily Willingham, Ph.D., whom I consider to be one of the leading ASD scientific experts on this planet, wrote a hysterical, but still appropriate, article about all the popular causes of ASD. Older mothers. Older fathers. Depressed mothers. Fingers. Facial features. Facial features?

And then more recently, it’s a claim that pesticides cause autism. Time to see what kind of science supports this “cause.”

 What is autism?


Autism spectrum describes a range of conditions that are considered to be neurodevelopmental disorders. The official diagnosis and description has recently been revised and can be found the fifth revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5).

The DSM-5 redefined the autism spectrum to encompass the previous diagnoses of autism, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder. These disorders are generally characterized by social deficits and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues, and in some cases, cognitive delays.

One of the enduring myths of some parents of autistic children is that their children are defective or inferior to others. There are even stories of parents and caregivers murdering autistic children–some people even excuse the murder.

But for most parents of children with autism spectrum, they accept them with love and caring. Autism can be treated and managed like many other medical issues, and they grow into adults with a high quality of life. No one claims it’s easy, but successful management and treatment of ASD has improved greatly over the years.

Causes of autism


Most real scientists accept that the likely cause of ASD is some combination of genetics and environment. There is some evidence that prenatal complications may be related to ASD, but the data has not been widely accepted.

Despite what we know scientifically about autism, that hasn’t stopped people from claiming that everything, but the kitchen sink, causes ASD.

In Dr. Willingham’s article I mentioned previously, she wrote about around 50 different causes of ASD, including “refrigerator mothers” which has nothing to do with actual refrigerators. That article was very important to me, because it formed the basis of my skepticism about popular beliefs regarding correlation and causality. It’s not just ASD, but other areas, like cancer causes and cures, which seem to attract the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink science.

Do pesticides cause autism?


Recently, I was pointed to an article that attempted to outline an epidemiological correlation between agricultural pesticides and neurodevelopmental disorders, published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. Before examining the methods, data and analysis, it’s important to ascertain the overall quality of the journal and the researchers. The journal itself, Environmental Health Perspectives, has an impact factor of 7.26, which is not low, but certainly is not in the upper tier of journals. In many academic environments, any article published in journals with an impact factor less than 10 may not be used in consideration of tenure (although this guideline is not universally accepted).

The authors of the article are mostly from the University of California-Davis, a top research university, which has a lot of focus in agricultural sciences. The first author is Janie F Shelton, who has published three articles about environmental pesticides and autism, and that’s all she’s published (she’s just beginning her research career, in that she was a graduate student at UC Davis).

In one of her previous articles, Dr. Shelton appeared to indicate that because mothers in the US have a higher burden of pesticides in the blood, there is some causal link with the higher rate of ASD in the USA. I am unconvinced that she actually showed causality with such a general relationship. But what worries me most is that Dr. Shelton has an inherent bias towards what she’s going to find. Instead of seeing where data might lead her, she has an a priori conclusion, “pesticides cause autism”, and she’s trying to find data that supports that hypothesis. This isn’t what a scientist should do.

Nevertheless, I can’t criticize the journal, nor the bonafides of the researchers.. But that, in of itself, isn’t everything. It’s time to take a closer look at what was written.

The Cliff Notes version of this study is that there’s a lot of data, but I’m dubious that it supports the conclusions that pesticide use is correlated to (or even causal to) autism spectrum disorders. Of course, the popular press and the anti-chemical crowd are all over this article. It’s so frustrating that they accept this research without actually examining it carefully. But I’ll try.

Before we look at this study, we have to understand the data behind the CHARGE study, which is the basis of Dr. Shelton’s paper. Basically, the CHARGE study is a case-control study, which is a type of observational study in which two existing groups differing in outcome are identified and compared on the basis of some supposed causal attribute.

Case-control studies are extremely important in epidemiological research, but, in the hierarchy of evidence, it is of a fairly moderate rank. Why? Because data from case-control studies tend to be observational rather than objective, like in double blind clinical trials.

Furthermore, confounding factors can bias the results if they are not fully understood–sometimes it’s impossible to even identify confounders. Case-control studies have been valuable, but usually only when there are huge numbers involved. Some case-control studies with vaccines include over 1 million patients, so that statistical analysis has much lower error rates.

Lets’s look at the data presented by Dr. Shelton. Because California carefully tracks type, amount and date pesticide applications, the authors could examine how close the mothers of the subjects lived to where pesticides were applied. So, the authors could then find subjects who lived in areas that were relatively close to farms that had pesticides applied on a particular date.


The study populations were: 486 with ASD, 168 with development delay (DD) and 316 neurotypical. Moreover, all of these study subjects were found in an small area within a two hour drive of the University of California, Davis.

I know there are all kinds of jokes about California, but it is difficult to accept an epidemiological study whose subjects represent a tiny segment of the general population. Not being an expert about environmental factors in that area, I still know enough to ask questions. Water quality. How about soil? Heavy metals in the environment from the gold rush (yes, we’re still paying for that damage). How many confounding factors are there, and were they identified?

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I’m being a bit flippant, but the fact is the authors didn’t really consider many confounding factors. They state that:

Other potential confounders explored but found not to satisfy criteria for confounding based on inclusion in the DAG or the change in estimate criterion were: distance from a major freeway, maternal major metabolic disorders (diabetes, hypertension, and obesity), gestational age (days), latitude of residence, type of insurance used to pay for the delivery (public vs. private), maternal age, paternal age, and season of conception.

They seem to ignore all other environmental factors that would be important for this type of study. It’s possible that such a study would become complex, but that’s why it’s hard–so that we know the results will stand up to scrutiny and in-depth analysis. And that the data can be separated from other data, so that we can have a reasonable conclusion.

Discussing and analyzing the full breadth of confounding factors is, for me, one of the most critical parts of a case-control study. And this study completely dismisses confounders with barely a sentence.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. I actually remain unconvinced that data shows you anything, irrespective of confounding information. Here’s my analysis:

  • The study is missing evidence that the pesticides scattered beyond the target areas (according to wind patterns or whatever). As I stated above, agricultural operations despise wasting pesticides and attempt to be accurate in application. What convincing evidence did the authors present to make me, or any scientific reader, think that the pesticides actually landed near the subjects? That would be hardly anything at all.
  • The study is lacking evidence of a dose-response effect–the only way to confirm a toxic effect is to establish the range of pesticide “dosage” (in this case applications or something quantifiable) that caused what level of ASD. If they had a large enough subject population, and they knew the actual pesticide burden of each mother, they could develop a dose (pesticides) response (ASD) graph.
  • The results were based on such small numbers, which left us with huge statistical errors. If you looked at each result, it ranged from all the way from exposure reduced the risk of autism to exposure tripled the risk of autism. But in the end, given the size of error, the increased risk seemed to be clinically small–you might think that a 58% increased risk is high, but with such small subject numbers and lack of analysis of confounding factors, it becomes difficult to determine if that 58% is important. In other words, the relative risk was so tiny that it could be overwhelmed by any of the ignored confounding factors.
  • The authors spent an inordinate amount of time discussing other animal studies, tying pesticides to neurodevelopmental disorders, as if they had to add some meat to their article because the actual case-control study was so thin.
  • We have no evidence of blood levels of these pesticides in the mothers. Do we know if being closer to or farther from the site of application had any influence over the blood level of the pesticide? It is very possible that there was no difference in blood levels of these pesticides between the mothers of the control group and the ASD group–that would be key evidence for another factor in the those areas.
  • Where is the causality? Even if this data made sense. Even if the size of the subject groups were 100X larger. Even if we could show blood levels. This study has done nothing to provide a physiologically plausible pathway between exposure and ASD, which would be the basis of causality.

Orac also did a review of this study, almost for the same reasons as I did–here comes ANOTHER cause of autism. His review of the data lead him to this observation:

The sine qua non of a good study demonstrating an association between an environmental exposure and a condition requires the actual verification and quantification of the environmental exposure under study in the cases. Sometimes this involves measuring the actual levels of the chemicals in question, either in the research subjects (ideally) to document exposure or in the places where they live and work.

Precisely. We have no idea, and the authors offered no insight into this issue, whether there actually was any additional exposure to pesticides. I could write a whole paper on the whole litany of factors that might make it impossible to determine if the mothers were exposed even within the 1.5 km of the pesticide application that was used as the cutoff for the study participants.

Think about this–farms that apply pesticides do it with pinpoint precision on generally low wind days. Why? Because pesticides that land on a home 1.5 km away is a very expensive proposition for the farmer. They want the pesticides on their crops, not on a rooftop in a residential area. If we had actual blood levels of the pesticides from the mother, we’d have some actual evidence that the agricultural based pesticides contaminated the mothers.

The authors appear to be cautious about their study. They state that “this analysis serves as exploratory research to identify environmental risk factors for ASD and DD, and contributes to a broader understanding of the potential risks to neurodevelopment from agricultural pesticides in a diverse population of California residents.” That’s typical scientific verbiage that can be translated to “we need more data to confirm this.”

Except in the press release from the University of California Davis, Janie Shelton claims:

This study validates the results of earlier research that has reported associations between having a child with autism and prenatal exposure to agricultural chemicals in California. While we still must investigate whether certain sub-groups are more vulnerable to exposures to these compounds than others, the message is very clear: Women who are pregnant should take special care to avoid contact with agricultural chemicals whenever possible.

Oh and there’s this from the same press release:

Research from the CHARGE Study has emphasized the importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy, particularly the use of prenatal vitamins to reduce the risk of having a child with autism. While it’s impossible to entirely eliminate risks due to environmental exposures, Hertz-Picciotto said that finding ways to reduce exposures to chemical pesticides, particularly for the very young, is important.

I guess Shelton thinks it’s some sort of hit-it-out-of-the-park home run of evidence. But scientifically, she’s shown us very little, but this study may start a panic equivalent to what we say from the vaccines cause autism myth.

Summary or the TL;DR version


Shelton’s study that pesticides cause autism is too small, too poorly controlled and too rife with assumptions to be taken seriously. If one was looking to blame pesticides for a child’s ASD, this study provides no evidence one way or another.

Shelton thinks her evidence is conclusive, but anyone with a reasonable knowledge of scientific methods and statistics cannot possibly accept this study as useful to our broad knowledge of causes of autism spectrum.

Let me close with Orac’s observation about this study:

I would agree that pregnant women shouldn’t be handling industrial strength pesticides, but if there’s evidence that living within a mile or so of areas where pesticides are applied during pregnancy will cause a woman’s child to develop autism, certainly neither Shelton nor Hertz-Piccioto has provided it, either in this paper or elsewhere. Sadly, that didn’t stop the press from dutifully responding to the press release from the MIND Institute as though this study were slam-dunk evidence that pesticide exposure during pregnancy causes autism. It’s not, not by a long shot. It barely qualifies as maybe hypothesis-generating evidence. Wait. Strike that. I don’t think it qualifies even as that.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2014. It has been completely revised and updated to include more comprehensive information, to improve readability and to add current research.

Key citations:

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!
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  • Bertrande

    I might be wrong here, but I don’t think anything “causes” autism in quite the way these scientists think. It is a form of neurodiversity, and to an extent, everyone falls somewhere on that spectrum. People are barking up the wrong tree looking for an external cause of autism. It is likely developmental, and the reason everyone is freaking out about is that they think it is a new thing. Disabilities that used to be classified with the blanket term of mental retardation are now more understood with the scientific, medical and intellectual advances of our era, and ASD, a broad category of diagnosis, is now used to cover what in the past did not have a name or was mislabeled. Scientists like those in this “study” are most likely trying to make a name for themselves in being the ones who can figure out the “cause” of autism, because there is fear and hysteria over a perceived autism “epidemic”. Autism is not brain damage, and it does not need to be “cured”, either. Good luck with that one, and have fun with the whole cause/cure dichotomy. Studies like this simply feed hysteria.

    • Well, I didn’t write the article, and I agree with you. It is really bad study that should be tossed in the garbage.

      And most of us who are pro-science/pro-vaccine/pro-people with ASD understand what is and is not ASD. Not sure I agree with your comment that everyone falls on the spectrum, and if you have something that supports, I’d really love to read it.

      Otherwise, I really appreciate your participation in this dialogue. Please visit more.

    • Deeper

      Yes, you are quite wrong there. Yes, we could say that “everyone is on the spectrum,” but some people are “significantly on the spectrum,” that which we call ASD, so it’s a mute point. Animal models of autism have been created in the lab based off of an epigenetic hypothesis that was based off that a significant amount of mothers who took valproic acid during neural tube closure had autistic kids. Inject rats with high doses during neural tube closure and you have autistic rats. And this is only one model.

  • Ben Fairbanks

    You say several times that agricultural operations don’t want to waste pesticide/herbicide. That is generally true, but spray drift is real and mechanisms to mitigate it are neither always cheap nor effective. The upfront cost of low drift nozzles is often not considered worth the savings it generates when pesticides and herbicides are relatively inexpensive. It’s not controversial that areas close to spraying will be on the receiving end of more drift than areas farther away. But, you are absolutely right in general. Living in an area that experiences agricultural drift has not been shown to result in significantly higher blood levels of pesticide and herbicide. And any statistical significance in the presented numbers is weak and smells of p-hacking. The authors’ data don’t adequately support their conclusions. Instead of a theory, here, we end up with what we started with: a hypothesis. It’s one that may be worth further examination, but of not much higher probability than a dozen other hypotheses out there.

    • The only thing I can conclude from this article is that it provides insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that living near a farm causes autism.

      Everything else you state would require supporting evidence before I wrap my arms around it. I’m certainly not in favor of farms spreading pesticides beyond the confines of the farm. And if my wife were pregnant, I wouldn’t have her near there either.

      I’m always concerned that people will assume that just because I don’t like bad science, means that I support the massive destruction of our environment. I leave that to anti-GMO/Global warming deniers.

      • Lawrence McNamara

        Wouldn’t you think that Farm Families (or farm workers in general) would experience higher rates of autism – and for that to be extremely obvious? Because it isn’t, how can these morons extrapolate for exposures sometimes a mile or more away?

        • Well, actually that’s not how epidemiology works. Small risks could appear in a well-designed study with a large numbers. To be honest, and not to insult the primary author, but this was at the level of a master’s thesis.

          So, we don’t know what the rate of autism is with the children of farmworkers. I doubt it would be different, but I haven’t seen anything definitive.

      • Linda Tock

        The database they used doesn’t include household use of pesticides, many of which are the same class of pesticides used in agriculture.

        So they’ve got a large counfounder that they can’t really account for.

        • I cross-posted this article on Daily Kos. It’s interesting how angry some people are because they think I’m anti-environment. Bad science is bad science. And this is really bad science.

          • Linda Tock

            You should see the latest hack job by Seralini’s group. I went postal on their methodology – and I only have a M.Sc. and I ripped it to shreds.

      • 3Point_Pete1

        What does being anti-poison and environmental devastation have to do with denying global warming? I’ve never met anyone who was honest about GMOs and still thinks that climate change isn’t a major ecological crisis. In fact, the two are so heavily related that such a person probably doesn’t even exist. 3 of the top global warming contributors are…

        1) Fossil fuel plants/emissions
        2) Burning gasoline (transportation)
        3) Corporate Agriculture (factory farms/heavy pesticide/ff inputs)

        Those are all the chief requirements of the globalized corporate GMO poison agriculture paradigm. To be anti-Gmo, is to support a stable climate.

        • You’re clearly missing the point. To be anti-GMO is to be anti-science and use the same cherry picking, pseudoscientific, lying lies that are used by the Global Warming deniers.

          And there is no “honesty” about GMO’s. There is simply scientific evidence, none of which tells anyone with a lick of a brain that it’s unsafe. Again, the same thing as climate change deniers who can’t be bothered by scientific evidence.

          GMO deniers=global warming deniers.

          • 3Point_Pete1

            No, GMO proponents = Evolution deniers. …”Monsanto’s propaganda show in Congress continues, as a House committee held a farcical hearing where “experts” who are actually paid cadres of the GMO cartel regurgitated the same bald-faced lies as always. (As is typical of GMO hacks, these alleged experts aren’t even credentialed in the subjects they’re pontificating about.)

            The same old lies include the notion of corporate rule being needed to “feed the world” (it’s a proven fact that corporate agriculture cannot “feed the world” and does not want to), the nutritional content of GMOs (even Monsanto admits GMOs will always be nutritionally inferior), and the escalated pesticide use they require. (It’s been proven everywhere on earth where GMOs have been deployed that they increase pesticide use, which stands to reason since the companies which sell these seeds also sell the poisons that go along with them. How stupid would someone have to be to have any question about whether under the GMO regime pesticide use is intended to go up or down?). The hacks also regurgitated direct lies about GMOs having been safety tested in the EU and elsewhere. The fact, as everyone involved knows, is that no government ever required and no corporation ever performed a single legitimate safety study upon ANY GMO.” ….

            • You’re making the assertion, then please provide scientific research, published in high quality high impact scientific journals that support your cause. In fact, GMO deniers are equal to global warming deniers. Both use bad science, both use scare tactics, and both lie. So good for you dude, you are getting hand jobs from your close pals, the global warming deniers.

              On my side is the AAAS, nearly every biochemist, geneticist, cell biologist, and knowledgeable scientist. The same crowd that supports evolution. So, there you’d be wrong dingbat.

              Thanks for participating, but if you’re going to bring your 3rd grade science to “debate” me, I get to laugh in your ignorant arrogant face.

            • 3Point_Pete1

              You must be joking. we, the people, do not want your corporate chemical rubbish. The burden of proof is not on us. And you and the AAAS have proved NOTHING with regards to safety. Not one thing. There has been no “science” to prove this- you keep using that word improperly. You are an irresponsible twat. Herbicide-resistant GMOs are committing us to a never-ending chemical treadmill. They don’t f#cking work. What is wrong with your brain?

              The AAAS statement notes that “GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply.” The statement should have included the fact that the Food and Drug Administration’s testing program is voluntary. Our experience with other well-studied consumer products (tobacco, asbestos, bisphenol A, phthalates) demonstrates that a large number of tests provide no guarantee of safety.

              Unfortunately, to win this argument, you’ll actually have to stop hiding behind your lab coat and test tubes. GMOs are poison, period. They don’t work, period. They have NEVER been proven to be safe, period. You are a liar. You have no shame.

            • kellymbray

              “we, the people”

              Who is *we*, Ke-mo sah-bee? You are a loud ignorant minority, much like the antivaxers.

              The majority of people are not not conspiracy mongering, 20 year old, Alex Jones anarchist fanboys.

        • Ben Fairbanks

          You’re argument about “corporate agriculture” is interesting and, to some extent, not wholly unreasonable. But not necessarily for the reasons you think. Driving factors for CO2 emmisions stem from growth in global populations and from growth in aggregate wealth. It is estimated that as much as half of the global agriculture relies on the Haber-Bosch process for the synthesis of nitrous fertilizer from atmospheric nitrogen. Efficient crops, such as GMOs and varieties introduced in Borlaug’s Green Revolution, along with the industrial production of fertilizers, decrease the probability of mass famine and accompanying death. Were it not for “industrial agriculture” Malthusian Cassandras would have been correct and we would be seeing hundreds of millions of people starving to death and populations limited by starvation, rather than the affluence that is ironically grinding to a halt the populations of western Europe.

          • Ben Fairbanks

            Then again, this is a complex system with positive and negative feedbacks. Efficient agriculture, including Haber-generated fertilizers, GMOs and Borlaug’s high yielding grains, permit greater yields from less farm land. The advent of these techniques and crops has meant less deforestation than otherwise expected. As a matter of fact, in the last 20 years, while population has grown, humanity has converted more farmland to nature than we have taken. Forests are gaining land while we are producing more with less.
            This is a positive development for global climate as well as for ecosystems the world over.

            • 3Point_Pete1

              ““Feed the World” is a classic Big Lie. Corporate agriculture has been dominant for fifty years, it currently produces enough food to comfortably feed 10 billion people, yet of the 7 billion on Earth, 1 billion go hungry, while another 2 billion experience various kinds of dietary diseases. That’s proof beyond any reasonable doubt that corporate ag cannot feed the world and does not want to, because its profit is based on imposing artificial scarcity on naturally abundant food. (This natural abundance is 100% the work of nature and the actual growers, 0% that of governments, corporations, or professional liars. All these only work to destroy abundance.) GMO seed patenting, of course, has no goal other than to make this corporate enclosure and artificial scarcity far worse. It wants to double down on corporate industrial ag.

              The whole notion that the world needs corporations to “feed” it is also the worst kind of anti-democratic, anti-human passivity. This is no accident. Just asagroecology and Sovereignty are the only way forward for all of humanity to provide itself with enough food, and healthy, nutritious, non-poisoned food, so these also comprise the mode of food production and distribution which gives free rein to human action, creativity, self-management, and democracy. So it’s obvious why, politically, the power structure wants to force Big Ag’s total control upon us, and destroy the agroecological alternative.

              I think this is the main line of counterattack: GMOs have no reason to exist whatsoever; there’s never been any economic demand or natural market for them; no one – farmers, eaters, food manufacturers and retailers – wants them around; they’re a pure artifice and imposition of the corporate welfare planned economy. They’re purely gratuitous, purely pointless, a crappy product, totally worthless to anyone for any purpose. Pro-GMO liars have no argument in favor of their product other than this “Feed the World” lie. Therefore, this lie must be demolished. I’d place this prior even to arguing the socioeconomic and human health evidence, though these too are very important. But the lead argument is that GMOs serve no purpose, have no rationale, fulfill no need, and have been correctly not wanted by anyone but the GMO cadres themselves in corporations and government. They serve zero purpose other than to increase corporate and government power and wealth, and to repress agricultural innovation (100% of which occurs among decentralized farmers and public sector breeding programs) and scientific research (as a rule patented plant materials are available only to corporate-vetted researchers), just as monopoly consolidation and “intellectual property” repress all innovation and change in every other sector, and in society and politics at large.”

            • Ben Fairbanks

              The only “Big Lie” here is the one you’ve swallowed and subsequently spewed all over the comments section. It may be true that people are starving because of despots and corruption, but if food were scarcer because people embrace low yielding agriculture, it won’t convince any autocrat to distribute more equitably. You display an amazingly backwards understanding of economics or you assume that all farmers are as stupid as the dirt they plough. Why would they spend a premium for inefficient seed? Farmers are most often savvy businessmen, and those who aren’t savvy don’t remain farmers for long. Those who buy GMO seed do so because they know it delivers on either increased yield or ease of management. If that were not the case, farmers would figure it out and Monsanto would not be making billions. My general comments about corporate agriculture are not disputed. If it weren’t for Haber and Borlaug, we would be seeing mass famine. The high yielding dwarf wheat and rice varieties that came from the green revolution were attacked with the same irrational arguments you offer here. But eating crops that have been scientifically developed is preferable to watching entire nations wasted by hunger. GMOs, the Haber process, the green revolution: these are all faces of the agricultural technology that allow us the efficient use of land to feed our species and to leave more of the world wild as well.

            • 3Point_Pete1

              “Why would they spend a premium for inefficient seed? Farmers are most often savvy businessmen, and those who aren’t savvy don’t remain farmers for long. Those who buy GMO seed do so because they know it delivers on either increased yield or ease of management. If that were not the case, farmers would figure it out and Monsanto would not be making billions.”

              OK, I’m done playing nice, Sherlock. Let’s go over the fine points. To begin with Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life, especially the life of farmers, and particularly those who have been convinced that monoculture farming is the way to go (of course, this must be heavily subsidized by stunningly retarded corporate/Govt. policies- and these are not “farmers”, they are wall street skimmers trying to make a dollar on commodities- what better way than Govt. handouts…). A Monsanto representative admitted that they were “the patient’s diagnostician, and physician all in one” in writing the patents on life-forms, from micro-organisms to plants, in the TRIPS’ agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the main objective. Monsanto is now extending its patents to conventionally bred seed, as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low gluten wheat it had pirated from India which the world is beginning to challenge as a biopiracy case in the European Patent office.

              GMOs are intrinsically linked to Intellectual Property Rights, which in turn are linked to royalty payments. Royalties are extracted from poor farmers through credit and debt. Check any developing nation to see how this works, if they haven’t already booted Monsanto’s poisons for causing agricultural duress and/or mass suicides. You claim to understand “economics”… which version, the orthodox bullshit that is ruining the planet? You moron.

              Reality cannot be cooked up in papers, no matter how prestigious the journals in which these concoctions are published. Reality is what happens in reality – the reality of farmers’ suicides, reality of the emergence of super-pests and super-weeds, the reality of rising costs of seed as royalties are extracted from poor peasants. These are no abstractions; rather, they are the lived realities of the consequences of GMOs.

              In a systems framework, the scientific approach is to identify the interconnections in reality, and identify systems causality and contextual causation. In the mean time, while you and your technocratic lab coat circle jerk conglomerate are masturbating into your test tubes, who is winning the bioweapons arms race? Mother nature or the GMO flacks? Please, don’t fool yourself as you are clearly an evolution denier. Mumma nature, the superbugs and the super weeds will surely win (as they have already proven). But congrats, you and your rubes will get to sell more 2nd and 3rd generation poisons in the short term. Look up the word shame, you useless corporate shill.

            • 3Point_Pete1

              “The Green Revolution”… has there EVER been a bigger lie or complete failure?