Richard Dawkins GMO position is made clear to Prince Charles

During the late 1990s, Richard Dawkins, noted secularist, author and evolutionary biologist, wrote an open letter to Prince Charles, noted promoter of pseudoscience and heir apparent to the British throne, about the Prince’s hostility to science. Even though Richard Dawkins GMO letter was written more than a decade ago, the salient points still ring true today:

…Sir, I think you may have an exaggerated idea of the natural-ness of ‘traditional’ or ‘organic’ agriculture. Agriculture has always been unnatural. Our species began to depart from our natural hunter-gatherer lifestyle as recently as 10,000 years ago – too short to measure on the evolutionary timescale.

Wheat, be it ever so wholemeal and stoneground, is not a natural food for Homo sapiens. Nor is milk, except for children. Almost every morsel of our food is genetically modified – admittedly by artificial selection not artificial mutation, but the end result is the same. A wheat grain is a genetically modified grass seed, just as a pekinese is a genetically modified wolf. Playing God? We’ve been playing God for centuries!

Richard Dawkins’ GMO ideas reflect real science, based on everything we know about genetics, agriculture, and biochemistry. Even though Dawkins letter was written a decade before the anti-GMO forces decided to make it a thing, it is still salient today.

Short history of agriculture

 

Wheat was domesticated around 11,000 years ago (but some forms of wheat may have been domesticated 25,000 years ago). Part of the domestication process was forcing it into tetraploidy (4 sets of chromosomes) or hexaploidy (6 sets of chromosomes). Of course, those ancient farmers didn’t have the knowledge of genetics or ability to manipulate it, so they had to wait and wait and wait for some random mutation to have caused it.

Corn was domesticated 7500-10,000 years ago in central America from a plant, still extant in that area, teosintes, which looks like grass. If you walked by a teosintes plant, you would probably not think it was corn. And once again, those farmers in Central American just waited and waited and waited for each mutation that they could select that gave mankind more useful and nutritious corn.

Plants like legumes (peanuts, beans and other similar crops) incorporate Rhizobia bacteria in their roots to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere for nutrition for the plant. According to the Endosymbiotic theory of evolution, mitochondria and chloroplasts, important cellular structures for most organisms, were free-living organisms incorporated by other cells. In other words, genetic and cellular modification of organisms have been happening for billions of years. Unless you ascribe to the Naturalistic Fallacy, which states only natural things are “good”, the differences between human modification of the genome and so-called “natural” ones are nonexistent.

Back to Richard Dawkins GMO letter

 

Dawkins continues with his commentary to Prince Charles:

The large, anonymous crowds in which we now teem began with the agricultural revolution, and without agriculture we could survive in only a tiny fraction of our current numbers. Our high population is an agricultural (and technological and medical) artifact. It is far more unnatural than the population-limiting methods condemned as unnatural by the Pope. Like it or not, we are stuck with agriculture, and agriculture – all agriculture – is unnatural. We sold that pass 10,000 years ago.

Does that mean there’s nothing to choose between different kinds of agriculture when it comes to sustainable planetary welfare? Certainly not. Some are much more damaging than others, but it’s no use appealing to ‘nature’, or to ‘instinct’ in order to decide which ones. You have to study the evidence, soberly and reasonably – scientifically. Slashing and burning (incidentally, no agricultural system is closer to being ‘traditional’) destroys our ancient forests. Overgrazing (again, widely practised by ‘traditional’ cultures) causes soil erosion and turns fertile pasture into desert. Moving to our own modern tribe, monoculture, fed by powdered fertilisers and poisons, is bad for the future; indiscriminate use of antibiotics to promote livestock growth is worse.

Once again, as mentioned by Dawkins, the Appeal to nature logical fallacy has no meaning. Natural is not better, especially if the “natural” system was lost thousands of years ago. As Dawkins says, maybe some parts of agriculture need to be fixed, but if by fixing we actually mean “let’s go back to the way it was”, that’s a long way back, and it’s going to starve a lot of people just for a belief rather than science.

Incidentally, one worrying aspect of the hysterical opposition to the possible risks from GM crops is that it diverts attention from definite dangers which are already well understood but largely ignored. The evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria is something that a Darwinian might have foreseen from the day antibiotics were discovered. Unfortunately the warning voices have been rather quiet, and now they are drowned by the baying cacophony: ‘GM GM GM GM GM GM!’

Moreover if, as I expect, the dire prophecies of GM doom fail to materialise, the feeling of let-down may spill over into complacency about real risks. Has it occurred to you that our present GM brouhaha may be a terrible case of crying wolf?

And it’s crying wolf, when there is no evidence that the wolf was even here. That’s the worst part. There isn’t even a pretend wolf running around. Not even a picture of a wolf.

Even if agriculture could be natural, and even if we could develop some sort of instinctive rapport with the ways of nature, would nature be a good role model? Here, we must think carefully. There really is a sense in which ecosystems are balanced and harmonious, with some of their constituent species becoming mutually dependent. This is one reason the corporate thuggery that is destroying the rainforests is so criminal.

On the other hand, we must beware of a very common misunderstanding of Darwinism. Tennyson was writing before Darwin but he got it right. Nature really is red in tooth and claw. Much as we might like to believe otherwise, natural selection, working within each species, does not favour long-term stewardship. It favours short-term gain. Loggers, whalers, and other profiteers who squander the future for present greed, are only doing what all wild creatures have done for three billion years.

No wonder T.H. Huxley, Darwin’s bulldog, founded his ethics on a repudiation of Darwinism. Not a repudiation of Darwinism as science, of course, for you cannot repudiate truth. But the very fact that Darwinism is true makes it even more important for us to fight against the naturally selfish and exploitative tendencies of nature. We can do it. Probably no other species of animal or plant can. We can do it because our brains (admittedly given to us by natural selection for reasons of short-term Darwinian gain) are big enough to see into the future and plot long-term consequences. Natural selection is like a robot that can only climb uphill, even if this leaves it stuck on top of a measly hillock. There is no mechanism for going downhill, for crossing the valley to the lower slopes of the high mountain on the other side. There is no natural foresight, no mechanism for warning that present selfish gains are leading to species extinction – and indeed, 99 per cent of all species that have ever lived are extinct.

The human brain, probably uniquely in the whole of evolutionary history, can see across the valley and can plot a course away from extinction and towards distant uplands. Long-term planning – and hence the very possibility of stewardship – is something utterly new on the planet, even alien. It exists only in human brains. The future is a new invention in evolution. It is precious. And fragile. We must use all our scientific artifice to protect it.

Dawkins is making a critical point here. To make the earth better, to feed the people, to deal with “nature”, we actually have to behave against nature, because…

It may sound paradoxical, but if we want to sustain the planet into the future, the first thing we must do is stop taking advice from nature. Nature is a short-term Darwinian profiteer. Darwin himself said it: ‘What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horridly cruel works of nature.’

Of course that’s bleak, but there’s no law saying the truth has to be cheerful; no point shooting the messenger – science – and no sense in preferring an alternative world view just because it feels more comfortable. In any case, science isn’t all bleak. Nor, by the way, is science an arrogant know-all. Any scientist worthy of the name will warm to your quotation from Socrates: ‘Wisdom is knowing that you don’t know.’ What else drives us to find out?



Please help me out by sharing this article. Also, please comment below, whether it's positive or negative. Of course, if you find spelling errors, tell me!

There are two ways you can help support this blog. First, you can use Patreon by clicking on the link below. It allows you to set up a monthly donation, which will go a long way to supporting the Skeptical Raptor
Become a Patron!


Finally, you can also purchase anything on Amazon, and a small portion of each purchase goes to this website. Just click below, and shop for everything.




The value of anti-GMO “evidence”

 

I know that some of the anti-GMO argument is based on poor evidence published in junk science journals with low impact factor. But a big chunk of the anti-GMO crowd has this belief that somehow the world was better 50, 100, 200 years ago. It wasn’t. I participated in a discussion where people were making a claim that cancers and childhood mortality have somehow increased over the past few decades. But, that’s just not true.

The doors have been opened to GMO crops 10,000 years ago. There is no way to go back in time, unless some of you know something that the rest of us don’t. We cannot possibly feed the world without specialized crops that can grow to be pest-restistent, drought-tolerant, or whatever we need. Science isn’t perfect, so there might be errors along the way, but in general, they will be minor mistakes, and the greatest thing about science is that it is completely self-correcting. If we “design” a corn that costs too much, we design a better one.

Genetic engineering is a fact of life. Millions of people are kept alive with genetically engineered insulin, that is the human insulin gene is inserted into bacteria so that factories can produce billions of vials of the important hormone. Without it, a Type 1 diabetic will die painfully and sadly within a few days.

Before the 1980’s, insulin was extracted from pig pancreas, because the porcine insulin was close enough. But it didn’t work as well as human insulin. And there were all kinds of allergic reactions. If you want to go back in time to a more natural world, a child with diabetes would die. And that doesn’t seem like a good choice.

Now, we might have been able to wait for some “natural” genetic mutation to occur in some bacteria or other organism to mass produce insulin. That may have taken decades, if ever, because bacteria have no use for insulin.

The same for plants. Genetic modification allows us to insert genes that speed up mutations, allowing us to have drought and pest resistant wheat or corn or whatever for a growing and hungry world. And unless you have some plausible scientific reason to make anyone think that the genetic modification can somehow directly or indirectly harm anyone or anything, you’ve got nothing to say.

If, like Prince Charles, your argument is going to be based on Appeals to Nature or the Naturalistic fallacy or the Nirvana fallacy. Or if your argument is going to use terrible science that wouldn’t meet the standards of a high school science fair by publishing a paper about pigs being less healthy on a GMO diet, but it’s in a horrible journal because no respectable journal would publish such an incredibly bad study–you continue to have no evidence.

Or if you’re going to use a strawman by bashing Monsanto 24/7. Well, then we’re not going to improve the world. We’re not going to feed the 10 billion people that will be on the planet in just a few years. Instead, by just yelling out that GMO’S ARE EVIL, with no evidence whatsoever, just makes most of us with a science background shrug our shoulders and proceed. As long as there’s no evidence that GMO’s are dangerous, as long as we need to feed people, we just move ahead.

Summary, the TL;DR version

 

There are discussions that need to be a part of the GMO discourse. Biodiversity is one, but I’m not even convinced as of yet that that is an issue. Agriculture is not about biodiversity, it’s about maximizing the amount of food calories produced per acre. There are more efficient and, frankly, effective ways of protecting biodiversity. But screaming about how bad they are, well, that’s going to lead us nowhere.

There is a discussion that needs to be made about genetically modified crops. Richard Dawkins GMO letter said so 13 years ago. Unfortunately, all we get are science deniers who keep saying “GMO’s are bad”, when there is a more nuanced and important discussion to be had.

But it’s just so hard to deal with science denialist because, as Sam Harris once said:

Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, “Well, that’s not how I choose to think about water”? All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn’t share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?

It’s so difficult to have a rational discussion with the anti-GMO crowd. They don’t share our values in the importance of science and how to accumulate evidence.

One more thing. There’s really no black and white to the GMO discussion. Except that one side keeps saying “it’s only black” leaving little room for those of us who think it’s white with some grey streaks here and there. Maybe someone will listen to Dawkins. Because Prince Charles hasn’t.

Note: Link to full text of the letter.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in June 2013. It has been completely revised and updated to include more comprehensive information, to improve readability and to add current research.

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!

237 Replies to “Richard Dawkins GMO position is made clear to Prince Charles”

  1. It is strange that you want to dig up this correspondence just at this time, when the WHO has recently declared glyphosate “a probable carcinogen”, and it has now been banned in a growing number of countries.
    Of course, they might be wrong, but seeing as how it has never been tested over the full-lifetime of lab animals, but only over 90 days, nobody knows, do they? Obviously Monsanto could put everyone’s mind at rest by doing the tests, but they don’t, at least they don’t make public the results of such tests. So I am inclined to believe the WHO.
    In terms of percentage of the volume used, GMO means “glyphosate-containing”. It doesn’t have to, and Monsanto’s marketing likes to go on about drought-resistance and disease-resistance, which never seems to happen. A growing number of crops are GMO just so the farmer can spray them with glyphosate. I have gone organic/free-range to reduce my glyphosate exposure, and anybody who wants to argue against my decision is an existential threat to me. Its simple. Just do the tests.

    1. Well if a complete crackpot organization like ENSSER says there is no consensus, using their almost 300 signatures (which includes several people listed twice, many non-scientists, and very few scientists with qualifications that are actually relevant) then I guess there is no consensus.

  2. So if gene mixing and gene modification are the same thing and we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, does that mean the Duggar family of “19 and counting” fame are genetic engineers? I wonder why universities like MIT and Columbia bother with degree programs in biological engineering if even the lowest IQ Walmart denizen is perfectly capable of achieving what biotech companies do in the lab with entire teams of scientists.
    It’s so difficult to have a rational conversation about this because on the one side you have the anti-science folks who rant about “big” scary pharma and biotech companies trying to poison us all (because polio and countless plagues never happened), and on the other you have the autoscience people who think all science is instantly and automatically good (because thalidomide, nuclear bombs, etc never happened). Both sides play off each other and get progressively farther from reality. We lost golden rice because of the autoscience side’s inability to assuage the fears of the public, and we lost sensible labeling because of the anti-science side’s inability to see the difference between engineering pesticides into potatoes and engineering vitamins and disease resistance into rice. Thanks, folks.
    Any clear thinking person can see that there’s more to biotech than rubbing two flowers together and magically getting a better one. Reaching into the genome and writing something in is a hell of a lot more complex than what you’re describing here, and consequently there are various places where it can go wrong. There’s *probably* no harm in engineering bt toxin into cotton, but you’d better do years of clinical trials before engineering it into something you expect me to feed to my kids.

    1. Go argue with Richard Dawkins. But please film it and upload it to YouTube while we all watch you get your ass handed to you.

      See you’re using lame ass strawman argument about “pro science” people. Most of us accept evidence, not whiny logical fallacies and ad hominem arguments. Not only does the quantity of evidence matter, but the quality of it. Right now, there is no evidence saying it’s unsafe, unless you want to accept poor quality evidence. On the other hand massive evidence says it’s safe, and it’s in high quality journal.

      This is a wipeout. More or less at the level of the global warming science wiping out the right wing global warming deniers.

      1. I can tell it’s an open and shut scientific case by the way you failed to address a single thing I said. I clearly stated that not all genetic modification is equal. “Genetic modification” is not the issue any more than “chemicals” in our food is an issue. It’s nonsense to suggest that the fact that genetic modification techniques in general have not been shown to pose a risk also means that inserting a gene for bt toxin into potatoes is automatically safe. Why not genetically modify them to contain cyanide while we’re at it, since that would be automatically safe as well. You make about as much sense as the people who think that “natural” means everything is automatically healthy. Don’t confuse parroting Dawkins and in-group confirmation bias with critical thought. Also, you might want to google the fallacies you’re tossing around. Good luck with your blog.

        1. Blog’s pretty successful, considering I don’t advertise much. So thanks on that.

          You’re making up shit however. You’re making the assertion, please support it with real science not invented crap. And you’re not even very good at that.

        2. Bt toxin is a protein that is only unsafe for a very narrow range of crop pests. There is no plausible mechanism that suggests the presence of the gene that produces it in any organism is harmful.

  3. none of this explains why I should accept a "Round Up Ready" GMO, which in fact is breeding the exact poison-resistant pests that you ironically talk about here. The truth is that the very Darwinian argument you make at the VERY LEAST means we should not be developing crops that are resistant to poisons (which are already damaging enough to our health and cancer rates), or unnaturally resistant to insects, who then become unusually resistant to whatever it is in the crops that repels them, and perhaps resistant to their own natural predators and thus overpopulate and decimate their own ecosystems. Where does it end? Do we suppose to be that in control of everything, and if so why are we destroying nearly everything humans touch? Is that the stewardship for the future you want in control? Do you expect we can out work nature in the long term? Do you suppose that just because other animals behave with an instant gratification selfishness humans should do so to? Do you then wish to go live like a Tiger, or worse, like a Rabbit? We have choices and must make proper ones, but as corporate culture stands in its current state, I DO NOT want those people making decisions for me and for everyone that, while scientific in origin, tend to only focus on the data which supports their profit motive, profit being THEIR ONLY motive, individual people or future repricussions be damned. Dawkin's comments here are a cheap form of intellectualism, but then most of what he says is a cheap form of intellectualism, or at the least a damaging form of absolutism that is more concerned with damming anything that flirts with the word God than it could ever be with understanding the fluctuating reality that is truth, which is almost never absolute.

  4. WHERE THE THE TOXICOLOGICAL STUDIES ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS? Nobody can declare they are safe because there are no studies confirming safety.

    "The main goal of the present paper has been to review critically the published scientific literature concerning potential toxic.
    effects/health risks of GM plants. It has been noted that experimental data are very scarce. As shown throughout the paper,
    most investigations correspond to short-term studies, mainly.
    nutritional studies, with very limited toxicological information.
    (Filip et al., 2004). Where are long-term toxicological studies.
    that should guarantee the safety of the transgenic plants for animal and human consumption? (Patel et al., 2005). Because of
    the importance that the consumption of GM foods has acquired,
    as well as its enormous potential in the near future, the performance of a complete case-by-case study seems would be advisable (Weil, 2005). Long-term studies are clearly necessary. This
    review can be concluded raising the following question: where.
    is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies.
    involved in commercial GM foods?"
    http://www.biosafety.ru/ftp/domingo.pdf

    1. Consumer health aside, there are problems associated with monocultural farming that make the practise potentially unsafe, in an environmental stability sense. Polycultures, in contrast to monocultures, increase biodiversity (or that is, they have biodiversity closer to wilderness), which is good for the environment but also for the farm as it decreases incidence of disease and infestation. Indeed, many of the problems addressed by GMOs are symptoms of monocultural farming – pests, etc, which thrive in the absence of more a balanced ecosystem.

      Anyway, the video isn't only about monocultures.

  5. Comparing modern biotechnology to traditional selective breeding is disingenuous. They are the same thing in the manner that an arrow and an ICBM are both weapons, but the difference in potential is enormous.

    Modern GE lacks some important safeguards that selective breeding has. For example, when you're breeding organisms over generations then you're going to notice detrimental or pathological traits before they become serious and you'll phase that particular strain out. Because of this, it's unlikely that a seriously dangerous organism will be derived from traditional artificial selection.

    GE offers the potential to jump many, many generations ahead in one go, and that means you might jump from a benign organism to a disastrously malignant organism in one go. Maybe this is ok so long as it's in the hands of trustworthy and moral scientists, but we're talking about an industry with a lot of money flowing through it, and in any case accidents can happen.

    Other than that is the fact that artificial selection never offered the ability to put, say, salmon genes into potatoes. Combinations of genes and traits are available to us now that may never have happened in 'nature'. This is a new development, I don't think it can be denied.

    The nature vs artifice debate is really quite stupid. Humans are animals with a natural capability for technological ingenuity. Genetic engineering is thus a natural process, ultimately. Still, we must maintain the awareness of the lack of a track record for what we're doing. We need to be cautious. If we can engineer deadly bioweapons on purpose, then we can engineer deadly agricultural organisms by accident. Extinctions have happened for perfectly natural reasons in the past, let's try to avoid that in our case, eh?

    1. I wish I didn't have to repeat myself over and over and over. Plants have, since they arose in the evolutionary pathway by incorporating chloroplasts, a bacteria, into their cell structure, used viral and bacterial genes to gain an evolutionary advantage. Artificial selection by its very nature selects for mutations and new genomes. So, being anti-technology for technology's sake is wrong.

      Moreover, stepping out of agriculture into other fields of science, are we going to suggest we shut down genetically engineered insulin? Or vaccines? I'm going to make this clear as possible, NO.

    2. I didn't say that artificial selection isn't about mutations. That's not what bothers me, I'm not scared of the word 'mutation' as I know this isn't the x-men universe.

      What's changed is the degree to which we can manipulate the natural phenomena that made artificial selection possible.

      There is no way now to shut down genetically engineered anything. Prohibition will simply lead to an unregulated underground. The knowledge is out there and isn't going away, ever. My suggestion is simply to go a bit deeper in terms of criticism and prediction so that we can be prepared for the eventuality that GMOs are not as awesomely perfect and safe as some people believe.

    1. You don't have a coherent argument so you fall back on the (fill in the blank) shill gambit. Epic fail on your part. How to we know that you are not a fake profile paid for by the organic produce industry?

    2. for me it isnt about winning, or serving. I indeed thought the conment was funny. So thank you for that. something about the word epic fail made me find humor. Anywho, keep on eating gmos and i wont. No need for me to argue or try to prove my point when I have children to teach right from wrong. Not to mention he has sounded like a bigot and an idiot latetl, in my opinion. So yes I do believe that he is on a different payroll. I will acknowledge the fact that I may be paid by the organic companies… and again Lol

  6. Kelly M. Bray Yeah, we may have a problem with malaria in the future, America doesn't currently have a malaria problem so lifting the EPA ban for a problem that doesn't exist is not a very convincing argument. This isn't the early 20th century, we don't problems with things like Yellow Fever. Perhaps you ought to update your paranoia a bit. You know, we might get smallpox somehow too, that doesn't mean we should start a vaccination program for smallpox again.

    It's rather stupid to argue that we need DDT to combat diseases that are pretty much eliminated from the United States because a non-existent risk is worth the health problems associated with DDT exposure. Heck, why not start handing out polio vaccines again. Over react much?

  7. Kelly M. Bray Yeah, we may have a problem with malaria in the future, America doesn't currently have a malaria problem so lifting the EPA ban for a problem that doesn't exist is not a very convincing argument. This isn't the early 20th century, we don't problems with things like Yellow Fever. Perhaps you ought to update your paranoia a bit. You know, we might get smallpox somehow too, that doesn't mean we should start a vaccination program for smallpox again.

    It's rather stupid to argue that we need DDT to combat diseases that are pretty much eliminated from the United States because a non-existent risk is worth the health problems associated with DDT exposure. Heck, why not start handing out polio vaccines again. Over react much?

    1. I dont think Dawkins wrote this article…Gmo's are inevitable in the future I can understand that much.. Manufactured seeds that destroy natural habitat is not inevitable. Seeds that dont grow without pesticides can cause extrem ramification in small villages that will have to depend on this new seed without being able to buy fertilizers and the pesticides from the same manufacturer….$$$$ We are not conserving the best values of the plant and the diversities that makes sustainable and good ecology. We do need more studies about this and I dont think the spokes person for science and evolution would have wrote this.

    2. There is a reason why they made a law that protects us from pesticides. Especially ppl who live in the country and rely from water from natural springs and wells…like where I from

  8. I am unaware of mandating labels on "organic" foods; companies voluntarily put them on to attract customers (who can afford them). If there is a market for "non-GM" foods, companies will do the same — heck, organic probably will mean non-GM too.

  9. peer review–http://www.english.rfi.fr/americas/20120920-monsanto-gm-maize-may-face-europe-ban-after-french-study-links-cancer

  10. All that and I forgot the link 🙁

    http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/13/06/2013/139515/scientists-dismiss-39unreliable39-glyphosate-study.htm#.Ubrsgfm1GAg

    "US biotech giant Monsanto, the biggest producer of glyphosate, which sells it under the brand name Roundup, said 40 years of independent health assessments by public authorities in Europe and across the world had consistently shown it "did not pose any unacceptable risk to human health or the environment"."

    "…did not pose any unacceptable risk…"…meaning clearly there IS risk, but the number of people that might be harmed by it is "acceptable" by their standards. Wording is everything.

    1. Richard Dawkins relies way too much on "I'm a scientist" to justify his rampant overuse of logical fallacies. Atheists who fall all over themselves over both this guy and Christopher Hitchens are NOT atheists.

  11. I endorse the idea of peer review to the Nth degree…but what reason do they have to review anything if there is no skepticism, no reason to doubt what another scientist has said, or even a layman has suggested? That is exactly why we have them. To validate credibility against "what if's". Since the entire industry acknowledges the presence of toxic substances (despite their quantities being so small per dose), I assert that until we can verify they are as free of it as any non-gmo version, we cannot say it is safe, only that it seems to be so based on what we currently understand.

    I certainly can't speak for anyone else, but I chose to pursue a Masters or higher in Plant Science and it's variances after a 20 year career in the corporate and political sectors. I've had the dubious privilege to see this from every angle, even the handshakes that agree upon the deals that will come to pass in the U.S. Congress. I started as anti-gmo, ignorant to the differences between the GM tech and what ends up on a plate. Over the years, with education, peer-discussion, industry insight and activity, I've learned a tremendous amount. It is my passion and I learn as much on the side of my curriculum as I learn from it directly, if not more so. My intention is to spend the remainder of my life doing my best to help make this process free of concern and free of potential harm in any form. To ensure that what we eat is safe and good for us to eat…not just "we're pretty sure".

    I suspect, in some ways, we share similarities: stubborn, opinionated, confident in your knowledge base. We're both apparently arrogant, pretentious and at times, numb-witted. I'm the kind of person that can stand a "wake-up" call now and then from someone who makes sense. I'll try to do that for you here.

    I get the impression that you're the opposite side of the extremism that anti-gmo people have. It sounds so much like "unless someone I feel I can trust hands me my opinion on whether there is reason to evaluate something, I'll just stick to my guns and says there's not" (dangerously similar to another of Dawkins favorite topics). You appear to refuse to accept reasonable skepticism, something Dawkins reveres. (I cannot help but notice the irony of picking and choosing what bits to use him for an endorsement of what you are refuting to others as being no different from Dawkins mockery of religious folk doing the same with a god). If you are as involved in this field as you suggest, there is no question you're intelligent enough to make observations that lead you to "connect dots" through observation, let alone understand a need for unending research as long as the products of that research are constantly changing. I'm not going any farther with this than to say if you refuse to accept anything as possible or plausible until AFTER it's been published in peer review, you'll always be repeating others work, never actually producing any.

    Don't hate people for not knowing or thinking differently, and certainly don't attack them for it. Nonsense deserves mockery, but ignorance demands patience and understanding. When you flame people for having an uneducated/misaligned view you strengthen their resolve in false belief and shut them down to any valid information you can offer. That helps no one.

    It's rarely 'what' is said but almost always 'how' it is said.

    Simply making an assessment of several combined observations…

    1. In English. He doesn't give a shit what you think. He is an Emeritus Fellow at Oxford and a world renowned expert in genetics and evolutionary biology speaking in his specialty and you are an adjunct instructor in counseling. The blowhard is you.

  12. So your argument is not safety but economic practices. Guess what, hybrid seeds are also patented and sold the same way. GMO's are sold so widely because they are clearly superior and economically justifiable

    1. I agree with Michael… If the USDA or Monsanto and General Mills… believed GMs were harmless, then why try to damn hard to hide it? Obviously nothing is truly black or white, so let me eat what I want and you eat what you eat. Also, if GMO are so wonderful, why are they banned in Europe, Turkey, and kick out from other countries? GMO Foods: Science, PR, and Public Backlash ~ http://www.corbettreport.com/gmo-foods-science-pr-and-public-backlash/

  13. Hmmm…everyone is saying that this letter is supporting Monsanto yet I don't see any mention of them. My concerns with Monsanto isn't with what they're doing but rather with how they're doing it– mainly their business practices.

    Fact of the matter is that Dawkins is right, feeding the world WILL require going against nature just as we've been doing for thousands of years.

    1. Wrong. There is enough food in the world to feed all of us! The problem of food scarcity is political, economical, and increasingly an ecological problem almost certainly exacerbated by mono-cultures that Monsanto practices encourage.

  14. Mr. Dawkins makes an image of smashing myths, Gods, who knows what. He often does so brutally, and as an agnostic, I suppose that I can work up a cold admiration for him, suspecting however that when he is done with all idols religious and secular, he may pose on the pedestal of one of the bigger one that rise out of rubble crushed by his undeniable intellect.

    And, to be honest, I just skimmed his diatribe against poor old Prince Charles. I was startled by his argument, and I found it, frankly, to be rather stupid. Yes, most of what we grow and eat has been modified ever since the beginning of agriculture, and one could say that the beginning itself was the first modification.

    But genetic engineering is a new ball game. Permutations in crops in the past occurred over centuries, the slowness of pre industrial civilization to progress technologically a built in due diligence in which failures failed before they did too much damage. Not that this thoughtless system was perfect. But it had the built in safeguard of time.

    Now, a change can be made to the genetic structure of a staple food, get rubber stamped by commissions that become more corrupt with every passing day, by stealth legislation of the kind that now protects Monsanto which was no doubt fashioned by legislators who had been bought by Monsanto.

    So out they go, those mutations, in bags of seeds to cover thousands of acres. And they will not be tested by time. One of them is bound to explode into the surrounding environment like millions of Frankensteins.

    So I would take the cleverness of Dawkins with a grain of salt. Pseudo science is not applicable in this scenario. What is applicable is the acknowledgment that this technology is out of the barn and out of control. That it is"scientific," that talisman word for the religion of atheists, is no guarantee that it won't kill us. Cyanide is also "scientific."

    1. Neither of you have any scientific evidence in support of this. And you have a rather ignorant point of view about genetic engineering.

    2. Neither do you, Michael. And where is the talk about monopolies in this whole article and these discussions? Or are you going to try to convince us that monopoliesare good for our pocket as well? As you said in another comment: "The reason we shouldn't label foods with nonsense claims, like whether they are GMO or not, is because it will skyrocket the cost of food."

    3. I talk about science.

      And yes, the cost of labeling food will cause it's price to skyrocket, given that every food company will have to verify its supply chain one way or another, source non-GMO foods, which aren't very prevalent, and put up with the thousands of lawsuits from dumb Americans for feeding kids GMO's or not.

      All this cost for zero benefit. Until you can show us, with peer-reviewed research published in high impact-factor journals, that there is some danger from GMO's, then you're asking for labeling out of arrogance, elitism, or getting paid off by Big Organic to push overpriced, no health benefit foods.

      And guess who gets hurt. The poor, who you elitists seem to hate with the passion of any typical right winger.

  15. Thing is, human digestive systems have adapted rather slowly to our changing diet. Sure, everything in "nature" can be changed by humans. The question is not whether nature can be altered, but whether our digestive and immune systems can adapt.

  16. I'm weary of Monsanto, but that's a different story. If we want to live how 'nature intended' many women would die at childbirth and most of us would never make it past 40.

  17. The primary aargument, I would think, is that GMO's are economically unjustifiable and consolidate economic and political power with those that distribute and manufacture the seed and those who loan to the farmers who buy the seed. Is that reasonable? I think so.

  18. The primary aargument, I would think, is that GMO's are economically unjustifiable and consolidate economic and political power with those that distribute and manufacture the seed and those who loan to the farmers who buy the seed. Is that reasonable? I think so.

    1. Also, your claim that because they are "sold widely", and that this means they are "clearly" superior, is specious. There is evidence that these products do not perform as well as they are pitched; in some environments they have failed catastrophically, producing no harvests for several seasons. This might be fine for a large farming company that can run at a loss for a year or two, but for small farmers and their local creditors? No way. But hey, if you want to argue that the economic destruction of smaller independent farmers is a point in favor of GMO's in ag, be my guest.

    2. Farmers are a canny lot. They know when something works. GMO seeds are not new. There is more than enough data for farmers to decide what works and what does not. Farmers have overwhelmingly chosen GMO's because they have seen the superior results. Show me citations that show the specific crop failures you are talking about. Where and when. Show me that it was the seeds and not the environment. In other words that other non GMO hybrid seeds would not have failed also. Show me that the farmers didn't choose the wrong seeds for their area. That would be their fault not the seeds. This has been happening long before GMO's came on the market and the same arguments were made about hybrid seeds.

  19. "Agriculture is not about biodiversity, it’s about maximizing the amount of food calories produced per acre."

    By this simple sentence the author, whose name appears nowhere that I could find on his page, betrays a dangerously flawed understanding of nutrition and negates any merit within the bulk of this article.

    1. Thanks Nancy… The grade school facile understanding of nutrition revealed by the author and the other two comments accents the tragedy of the modern food industry dominance of our diets. People are starving around the world because of politics and despotism, not because of a lack of "calories." And since, on a global scale, fully 50% (yes, that is one half) of all food produced is wasted or lost, we are far from a "shortage" of food. "Calories" are the least important part of the diet. The most important part of our nutritional intake are what were once called intrinsic (meaning unknown) nutrients and are now called vital (understudied and under promoted) nutrients. And for decades studies have revealed that increasing the amount of calories and speed to ripeness does not proportionally increase the amount of vital nutrients in any plant. Just like big Pharma, big Food is designed to maximize the profit and control of the food industry, not to provide a better diet for the individual.

    2. Ted Viens Glad someone is setting the record straight. I cannot believe how people are just eating this up (no pun intended). It's almost religious in nature, this uncritical acceptance of this grandiose reasoning.

    3. Kelly, notice how people come here, troll with their "opinions", but rarely bring peer-reviewed citations to the conversation? If I were like the anti-science types, I'd delete these comments. But it's good for their foolish beliefs to stand out against the science.

    4. We are hardly short of food using today's farming methods. With widespread use of permacultural farming techniques we can have an abundance without recourse to massive amounts of pesticides and toxic petrochemical fertilizers. There is no need to risk the health of future generations on untested methods of genetic manipulation.

  20. This story is nothing but propaganda and a load S#$%! What about the studies into DDT? DDT was banned because of the high toxins, and agent orange… was that fake? Look into Round-up ready and what it has done to our farmers! Reference the evidence please!

    1. So basically he is telling us that changing the DNA of a plant that people eat to include DNA of other organisms or pesticides are HEALTHIER than what mother nature came up with eons ago?????? Sorry I ain't buying his malarky. Never did like this man or his philosophies!

    2. Typical of the truly scientifically ignorant, you ignore the part of the DDT story where millions of lives were saved by eradicating malarian carrying mosquitos. You seriously need to get real information before screaming ignorance.

      Secondly, your understanding of evolution is also woefully deficient. There is no "mother nature" who controlled the development of foods. We messed with "mother nature" 10's of thousands of years ago. Humans ate whatever was available in whatever ratios were available. Modern primates, like genetically similar chimps and humans, eat whatever is available. Chimps eat other chimps if its available. They eat figs as a huge percentage of their diet.

      Just because you're a science denier doesn't make your ideas important. They make them silly and nonsensical.

    3. Okay then. Let us look at what you appear to be implying; NOT doing this is somehow inherently more healthy.

      What is healthier, a GM crop with inbuilt resistance to pests, or one which needs regular spraying to kill all the nasties? (Organic farmers have to repel invaders too; they just use different chemicals and methods)

    4. DDT isn't banned for the purpose of disease control. It's rather pathetic to call someone ignorant when you miss that obvious fact.

    5. Yolanda Kat Bertaud GMO's are banned in other countries due to ignorance on the part of the public and lack of ethics on the part of politicians. Anti-GMO activists fall into the same catagory as truthers, birthers, chemtrail nuts, Holocaust deniers, anti-vaxers, and other assorted Luddites and lunatics. I see that you are at least three of those.

    6. Greg Forschler: wrong. That's the propaganda spread by supporters of GMO everywhere. Crossbreeding, or hybrid crops, are NOT the same as GMOs. If you are so scientifically literate, you should know this elementary distinction. That's why I get disgusted when Dawkins starts his argument with this red herring fallacy as if people having a valid concern with GMOs are but romantic illiterates who want to live back in huts, and are anti-progress.. It's highly offensive!

  21. I consider myself in the pro-science camp and generally feel like this blog does a fantastic job "keeping it real." I'm a big fan of Dawkins, but one of my issues with his approach (as well as with this blog) is the tendency to cast aside the inherent wisdom of the natural world in favor of explicit, isolated science fact.

    There's an arrogance that comes with the notion that the knowledge accumulated by humans in the very recent past about our natural world somehow puts us in a position where we can engineer a product that is in the long-term interest of our species. Dawkins himself alludes to the dichotomy of nature (short-term success) vs. science/humanity (long-term success). What is explicitly missing from the message is the fact that our perception of long-term is not significantly different from the short-term of nature/evolution.

    While Dawkins was referring to the mechanism of natural selection functioning at a generation-by-generation level, 500 years is almost irrelevant with regard to the process of evolution for a long-lived species like humans. As it pertains to this line of thinking, I agree with virtually everything Dawkins says, I just arrive at a different conclusion. We are led to believe that the short-term successes provided by Science are the key to the long-term success of our species. What is apparently not considered is the possibility that the short-term successes may be at the EXPENSE of long-term success ("long-term" in the human timescale) of the population.

    The statement about Agriculture being the catalyst for the explosion of civilization was dead on, as is the statement about the need to continue to develop the kCal per acre output of farmland to support an ever-growing population. Also correct is the obvious [summarized] statement that we need mono-culture and GMO to support the growing population. At some point, Science will run out of bullets and I have no reason to believe that we'll be ready to colonize other plants/moons before then. The only question is how long it will take and how far backward civilization slides to regain a foothold.

    1. I appreciate the backhanded compliments and some valid criticism. However, what wisdom is there in the "natural world." it is a random process pushed by natural selection and genetic drift. Nature doesn't know better, because if it did, 99% of all species that ever existed wouldn't be dead.

      We have stepped out of the evolutionary process, through our intellect, which was a result of evolution. Maybe what we're doing with science is natural selection itself.

      You also think of science as some sort of marching horde of barbarians. Science is a philosophy of answering questions about the natural world. Engineering is the one that build the bullets. Minor point.

  22. I am one of those completely opposed to Monsanto, maybe some of if it comes from misinformation, but all in all, the company does scare me. I agree, without the advances in agriculture we would not be where we are today as a society. But my fear comes in the protection Monsanto provides for itself by penetrating the offices of government that policy ill doings in the corporate world dealing with what else, agriculture. Are GMO's bad? In my mind I feel they might be, only time will tell. But for a company to have free reign without penalties is never a good thing. This article did raise some amazing points on the history of genetically modifying food through artificial selection, the mutation part, that can come back and haunts us. Thank you for posting this insightful blog, keeping an open mind is key for our survival, and maybe I might someday change my mind on Monsanto.

    1. But the point is society has applied GM over the years. People against GM would be like people against the Internet. Look at the bad things the Internet can do! Let's get rid of it! And also don't artificially select (genetically modify) the crops!

      And airplanes? OMG. They can do damage too! They're unnatural! They're not birds! 🙂

      Bottom line: People don't like change. With greater ability in technology, in this case applying GM in a more precise way, people get scared. It makes them feel uncomfortable and goes against hippie rules lol

    2. I would've never consider myself a hippie, but maybe I do hold some of their qualities. True, science has transitioned us out of living in caves into the high rises you see in every big city, yet something about GMO's feels weird to me. I am okay with artificial selection, the mutation part is what doesn't sit well with me.

    3. Peter Mirtitsch: Degree is no trivial difference. Modern biotechnology offers us capabilities magnitudes more extensive than traditional selection, and it's not just a matter of more of the same. When a technology advances, thresholds are crossed that open new opportunities, not all of which are always positive.

    4. Reko, creating a strawman in Monsanto has value if you're trying to push an anti-science agenda. Do you have any real evidence that Monsanto is an evil company? Do you think that Monsanto's 21,000 employees are all so evil, corrupt and unethical, that they would all protect some nefarious secret agenda? It's the same BS I hear about Big Pharma, that every employee is corrupt and immoral, and they hide evidence of wrongdoing.

      In fact, I've observed quite the opposite. When something is done wrong, they are outed and they correct the mistake, because, you know corporations are made up of human beings who are subject to judgement calls every day. You hope to get most right, but you occasionally screw up.

      The Appeal against Monsanto logical fallacy (I'm ready to make it a formal fallacy) is just ridiculous. Take Monsanto (and the dozens of other companies involved in Genetic Engineering) out of the equation. Does the science say that GMO's are bad? No. We can move on.

    5. The point is that genetic engineering doesn't operate in a vacuum. It is necessarily mediated through corporations, which are subject to market dynamics, and the results are not always human friendly. There doesn't need to be a conspiracy or a cover-up for corruption to occur.

      Unconscious systemic corruption is perhaps more insidious than the conspiracy type. All that is needed is the natural human greed of the people in positions of power within an organisation and conspiracy-like symptoms can arise without any of those individuals directly conspiring.

  23. I fully agree that many arguments against GMOs are based on misinformation and fearmongering, but are they all? Are there no valid concerns at all?

    I will cheerfully admit to only having a layman's knowledge of science, so if any of the below concerns are incorrect I'll be delighted if you can correct them.

    1. One of the most widespread types of genetic modification is to make a crop resistant to herbicides – such as Monsanto's "RoundUp-Ready" varieties which are resistant to RoundUp (glyphosate). This allows the growers to use more RoundUp on their crops – and that is a problem. Although the EPA classifies RoundUp as "low toxicity", the increased levels combined with its use on a wider variety of crops ultimately mean more of it ends up in our food.

    2. Although most "natural" crops used today are very different to the original pre-cultivation plants, the process that led to them being developed took quite a long time. The changes introduced by genetic engineering are much faster, raising the possibility that any long-term detrimental effect will not be noticed until they've been consumed for a long time.

    3. It is impossible to contain the genetic modifications. Pollen from modified plants will be carried to other non-modified plants. Already some genetic modifications that were not approved for human consumption were found in crops intended for humans. Probably the modifications in question are not a risk but it illustrates a troubling concern. See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-30/japan-halts-some-u-s-wheat-imports-on-gene-altered-crops.html

    1. Enviro group goes looking into pee and finds….. quote:
      “Most samples were below the level of detection and the highest value found was less than 2 microgram (a millionth of a gram) per litre. As most people excrete about 2.5 litres a day it would indicate the maximum intake was 5 micrograms, which is unlikely to be of any significance to health because it is 300 times lower than the level which might cause concern – even in the most vulnerable groups.”

      And has nothing to offer in the way of why anyone should be concerned because… quote:
      “It should also be noted that the recognised danger level of glyphosate is less than that of table salt! In other words a far lower dose of salt is lethal to mammals compared to glyphosate. So even if we are eating glyphosate it is relatively benign and not of major concern.”

      http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-press-release-from-fote-and-gm-freeze-about-glyphosate-in-urine/

    2. I really don't have the time to refute every comment here, I'll let others do so. But

      1. RoundUp is a better choice than other herbicides, and resistant crops require LESS of the herbicide. Your logic is profoundly opposite to reality. If you think that we can grow crops without any herbicide, then either it has to be done manually (with huge costs) or……
      2. Your stating the obvious about genetic modification. Because YOU are scared of genetic modification, doesn't provide any evidence whatsoever that it causes harm. That's silly.
      3. So? Again, modern agriculture is most efficient and productive with genetically modified plants. If the genes spread, so? Moreover, if you're worried about biodiversity, it shouldn't be the responsibility of farmers to maintain it. There are better ways.

      But the science deniers, like GMO refusers, have two responsibilities. First, provide a plausible physiological pathway that GMO crops can harm humans. Now, don't invent stuff, it has to be based on real science. And, provide evidence that you can show that in a real peer-review journal.

    3. Sorry, I spent many hours cutting and pulling weeds out of beans. The farmers did well financially and some kids made a little money. We fed the world just as well back then. There will be no problem feeding the world without Monasanto's poisons. We did it without Roundup, and we probably did a more thorough job than a spray. By the way, what about BT corn, a corn that creates it's own insecticide which of course permeates the entire plant!

    4. Bill Gorrell Guess what. *back then* people were starving. The rest of the world is starving now and there are far more people than there were when you were pulling weeds. A first world anecdote does not trump developing world facts.

  24. So it is OK that tomatoes does have skeletons and taste like cucumbers. And I cant find old school tomatoes tasting like tomatoes.

    Mr Dawkins wrote this article with the languge of his atheism articles. Crude and Bully. Talks about antibiotic resistance, but forgets to criticize inetria against using them on animals we grow for food. The animals themselves are like genetic labs creating more resistant bugs every day. Why don't we stop them now? May it be because of the economics?

    In your point of view "Monsanto is guilty until proven innocent", what about scientific scepticism? If it increases cancer risk by 0,5% and we didn't yet prove? Wouldn't you want to know it? At least we know the effects of that natural products or agricultural products that we consume with experiments of millenia. This is not a toxi tomato case.

    I am not willing to take that risk just because some rabbit minded sexomaniacs has right to reproduce uncontrolled. I do not want to feed a 10 billion world by giving up my tastebuds if not increasing risk of cancer. Your article diverts attention from the real problem of population boom to GMO. What will happen to biodiversity when there are 10 billion of us?
    Ugly, Mr Dawkins very ugly.

    1. Increased cancer from GMO's? Oh, please provide evidence published in a peer-reviewed high impact factor journal. Because, I'm looking through Science, Nature, PNAS, Lancet, NEJM, and I'm not finding such Nobel Prize winning research.

      By the way Abswa. Dawkins has a Ph.D. and a long history of peer-reviewed research published in the best journals in the world. He is an expert on genetic engineering. I'm not sure how your arrogant narcissism gives you credibility over Dawkins.

    2. I endorse the idea of peer review to the Nth degree…but what reason do they have to review anything if there is no skepticism, no reason to doubt what another scientist has said, or even a layman has suggested? That is exactly why we have them. To validate credibility against "what if's". Since the entire industry acknowledges the presence of toxic substances (despite their quantities being so small per dose), I assert that until we can verify they are as free of it as any non-gmo version, we cannot say it is safe, only that it seems to be so based on what we currently understand.

      I certainly can't speak for anyone else, but I chose to pursue a Masters or higher in Plant Science and it's variances after a 20 year career in the corporate and political sectors. I've had the dubious privilege to see this from every angle, even the handshakes that agree upon the deals that will come to pass in the U.S. Congress. I started as anti-gmo, ignorant to the differences between the GM tech and what ends up on a plate. Over the years, with education, peer-discussion, industry insight and activity, I've learned a tremendous amount. It is my passion and I learn as much on the side of my curriculum as I learn from it directly, if not more so. My intention is to spend the remainder of my life doing my best to help make this process free of concern and free of potential harm in any form. To ensure that what we eat is safe and good for us to eat…not just "we're pretty sure".

      I suspect, in some ways, we share similarities: stubborn, opinionated, confident in your knowledge base. We're both apparently arrogant, pretentious and at times, numb-witted. I'm the kind of person that can stand a "wake-up" call now and then from someone who makes sense. I'll try to do that for you here.

      I get the impression that you're the opposite side of the extremism that anti-gmo people have. It sounds so much like "unless someone I feel I can trust hands me my opinion on whether there is reason to evaluate something, I'll just stick to my guns and says there's not" (dangerously similar to another of Dawkins favorite topics). You appear to refuse to accept reasonable skepticism, something Dawkins reveres. (I cannot help but notice the irony of picking and choosing what bits to use him for an endorsement of what you are refuting to others as being no different from Dawkins mockery of religious folk doing the same with a god). If you are as involved in this field as you suggest, there is no question you're intelligent enough to make observations that lead you to "connect dots" through observation, let alone understand a need for unending research as long as the products of that research are constantly changing. I'm not going any farther with this than to say if you refuse to accept anything as possible or plausible until AFTER it's been published in peer review, you'll always be repeating others work, never actually producing any.

      Don't hate people for not knowing or thinking differently, and certainly don't attack them for it. Nonsense deserves mockery, but ignorance demands patience and understanding. When you flame people for having an uneducated/misaligned view you strengthen their resolve in false belief and shut them down to any valid information you can offer. That helps no one.

      It's rarely 'what' is said but almost always 'how' it is said.

      Simply making an assessment of several combined observations…

    3. All that and I forgot the link 🙁

      http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/13/06/2013/139515/scientists-dismiss-39unreliable39-glyphosate-study.htm#.Ubrsgfm1GAg

      "US biotech giant Monsanto, the biggest producer of glyphosate, which sells it under the brand name Roundup, said 40 years of independent health assessments by public authorities in Europe and across the world had consistently shown it "did not pose any unacceptable risk to human health or the environment"."

      "…did not pose any unacceptable risk…"…meaning clearly there IS risk, but the number of people that might be harmed by it is "acceptable" by their standards. Wording is everything.

    4. peer review–http://www.english.rfi.fr/americas/20120920-monsanto-gm-maize-may-face-europe-ban-after-french-study-links-cancer

  25. I'm not certain, but I think the cost issue is not to do with printing costs, it is with regards the tracking and auditing of the GM content of the food, If a manufacturer of a processed food sources their ingredients from various places around the world – whether it is rice, wheat, coffee, cocao, or whatever; normally their purchasing will shift based on supply availability and costs. The GM content from the sources may differ. If the GM content is only to assist with drought or pest or salt tolerance, but has no impact on the nutritional end result of the produce, the manufacturer would not normally care whether it was GM or not. Just as they wouldn't care if it was artificially irrigated or irrigated by natural rains. Strict labelling requirements would lead to either onerous and costly auditing procedures, or it would restrict the sources of supply leaving the manufacturer open to supply problems and price gouging. Which would also impact on costs.

  26. DDT? Did you ever study up on the history and politics behind DDT, Christopher? It was a perfectly better way of saving tens of millions of lives from mosquito carried malaria, but because of a bunch of very anti-science, naturalistic style fear-mongering it was banned, and as a result millions have died who could have been saved. Also, all this Monsanto, evil corporation crap isn't even a valid argument. It's a Poisoning the Well and Genetic Fallacy type of argumentation designed to distract people from the actual facts, issues, and science. You're arguments are based on emotional pleas, finger pointing and conspiracy theories, not valid science.

  27. Mark Baylor Dawkins has remained consistent in his anti-anti-GMO attitude. The Richard Dawkins Institute supports mostly pro-GMO writers. Again, the evidence showing harm of GMO's is just not there. It's not as compelling or as well done as you think it is.

  28. Are you a Europabio "ambassador"? I'm not by any stretch anti-science, or an anti-vaxer but I simply don't trust the organization that brought us dioxin and DDT, claiming that they were "safe." This kind of PR strategy is nothing new on their part. They shouldn't need a co-ordinated PR effort to convince the world their product should not be labeled. If it's so great for the world, proclaim it.

    Combine the dubious nature of round-up ready pollens in the gene pool, with Monsantos stated goal to eliminate the competition and if labeling slows down the monopoly, we'll all be better for it. Having one or two companies control the seed for ALL of the corn / soy / sugar beets – any kind of staple crop – is a recipe for disaster. If these crops truly are so great for the world, then put them in the public domain. The state has a national security interest in open-sourcing the seeds.

    But it's not about feeding people, and never has been. It's about market control of staple crops. It's great that we (meaning humans) can insert a pesticide producing gene into a food crop. It's not so great that every farmer in the world is forced to buy their seeds from one or two companies and not be able to seed next year's crop from their own labor.

    Really do we want the entire world food supply dependent on glyphosate? We're already seeing super weeds – just as we do with anti-biotic resistant super viruses.

    Monsanto has said "trust us" for decades – their track record doesn't justify trust.

    1. There's nothing wrong with either dioxin or DDT–if used properly. You might as will rail against ethyl alcohol, which damages and kills far more people.

    2. First, Monsanto is not the only company, there are others, it is impossible for small companies to make it in the GM market, it is too expensive to develop then financially survive the approval process which takes many years, on top of this, defending it from misinformed citizens and those who steal the product through lawsuits and political hurdles… They need a PR strategy because their is now an industry with larger profits than theirs fighting against them, intending to end the existence of GM crops: http://theconversation.com/calls-for-labelling-gm-food-reveal-attempts-at-market-domination-9873 Labeling will effectively remove GM products from our country, farmers are not going to invest their money and time on a product they can't sell and we can see real life results in Europe. The fear of the misinformed have removed the use of GM as an option for farmers even though European scientists have conducted thorough research on GM foods and concluded it is safe both for humans and the environment. Farmers are not forced to purchase the seeds, they choose to because they work! Farmers are able to practice methods that include a no till system which is best for soil health and saves on gas and wear/tear of equipment, the crops are more successful and more can be grown on less land; From a *real farmer* multi-generational family farm: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/01/17/opinion-my-family-farm-isnt-under-corporate-control/#comments
      Finally, weeds resistant to weed killers is not unique to glyphosate, this was a problem with other more toxic weeds prior to round up, other weed killers are more toxic to us and the environment whereas glyphosate is only blocks an enzyme unique to plants, this is what causes the plant to die. Since we are not plants, it doesn't cause a problem for us. It is still the best product available and the great thing about profit driven innovation, especially when the result helps humanity, is that the incentive to progress is the greatest.

    3. I think your response was spot-on. Couldn't have said it better myself. It seems we all have blinders when it comes to what we choose to see and what we choose to ignore (and be skeptical about).

    4. Because one company made one product that was found to be bad we should never ever trust them again!

      oh wait what's that called again, oh yes genetic fallacy, and also with nice hints of fallacy of composition/division

    5. I would say anyone who puts on blinders about evidence isn't a skeptic. I continue to demand high quality research to reject genetic modification, whether in medicine or in agriculture. DDT is a strawman argument, because it was misused, but it saved millions of lives from malaria.

      Too many people rely upon the Nirvana Fallacy, that if it isn't perfect, it must be rejected. Well, the fact is DDT has a cost, but it also had an incredible benefit to humanity. The same with GMO's. No one has provided substantial evidence of any risk, but the benefits are unchanged, it's going to feed a world filled with 10 billion people soon.

    6. Matthew M. Smith That study was for a particular bird and not well done. Banning DDT was pushed by politics, not science. The only problem with DDT was people were using too much of it, small amounts are very effective, but they were basically drowning us in it for no reason.

    7. DDT was banned for agricultural use in the vast majority of countries, but not all. As for disease control, DDT is still used as the ban under UN treaty didn't apply to disease control. America doesn't have a malaria problem so the demands that we must lift our ban for the sake of stopping the spread of malaria in America is rather stupid.

      Just keep on putting on those blinders to the facts.

    8. Doug Ittner Only Americans count? We may have a Malaria problem soon enough since the vectors seem to moving north. We may also enjoy Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile, and my favorite St. Louis Encephalitis. I had it and really enjoyed the tinnitus I had for the next 20 years.

    9. Drakulian Rathburn What is your argument? How many times, and in how many ways can you paint people having valid concerns about GMOs as fearmongering, anti-science, or hippies wanting to catapult the world back to the stone age? Talking about appeal to emotion. Pffft. As Bill Maher said on his show the other night, even the Chinese want to label GMOs, and you know all about their track record on safety, right?!

    10. Kelly M. Bray Yeah, we may have a problem with malaria in the future, America doesn't currently have a malaria problem so lifting the EPA ban for a problem that doesn't exist is not a very convincing argument. This isn't the early 20th century, we don't problems with things like Yellow Fever. Perhaps you ought to update your paranoia a bit. You know, we might get smallpox somehow too, that doesn't mean we should start a vaccination program for smallpox again.

      It's rather stupid to argue that we need DDT to combat diseases that are pretty much eliminated from the United States because a non-existent risk is worth the health problems associated with DDT exposure. Heck, why not start handing out polio vaccines again. Over react much?

    11. Doug Ittner Smallpox is gone. Yellow Fever is not. It is endemic in South America and has cropped up in Central America. You say paranoia? I have had St Louis Encephalitis which is spread by a mosquito vector. The blinding headache, vomiting, high fever, double vision, shakes, I suffered through, and permanent hearing damage I have are all too real. BTW, we still have the polio vaccine on the US schedule as it is still not eradicated.

    12. Kelly, considering the EPA ban doesn't apply to other countries it's quite an irrelevant point to say that we need to lift our ban for the sake of South Africa or anywhere else where there is no ban for using DDT for disease control. So what are you complaining about anyway?

    13. Drakulian you are only interested in seeing the evidence that supports your world view, that science is god, which is no different than making one of these ridiculous deities that people worship a god. Science will always be conducted by humans, who are always subject to coruption, to bias, and to ulterior motives. Your faith in corporate culture in spite of the MASSIVE wall of evidence reagarding the pursuit of profit at that level of business is incredibly ignorant. If Mondanto is so wonderful, why do they have to annoynamously insert language onto the back of other legislation in the middle of the night in order to overstep the boundries of the judicial system in bringing their untested product to market? I thought science was about extensive, unbiased testing, and then siding our policies and understandings with the weight of evidence, how does giving a company the right to bypass that process of peer review sound like a remotely good idea to you? One has to wonder how far Monsanto's science has gone, what they found out, and why they are so anxious to head that finding off at the pass and continue to sell a product even if it comes to find istelf in the process of being proven dangerious and banned? If you trust corporate culture with your well being then it is you who are on the wrong side of facts and evidence…

  29. It's hugely important to remember that Dawkins wrote this over a decade ago…BEFORE there was publicly available evidence to support claims of medical mayhem. It's a good thing to be reminded that not all GM technology is used for the same purpose. Genetic Engineering is a marvelous thing and not something to be feared, however, it is prudent to remain skeptical under the current conditions. More evidence is revealed all the time showing that what some companies are doing with this science may be more harmful than helpful in the long run – long run being relative of course ;).

    1. Like what evidence? And he hasn't changed his mind about genetic engineering.

      The whole point is that there just isn't any high quality (but lots of low quality) evidence of harm from genetic engineering. Richard Dawkins inspired me to learn about genetics in evolution when he gave a lecture during my graduate level education in biochemistry.

    2. You mean before all the mountains of evidence came out showing that GMOs are perfectly safe and then crazy people ignored it? I imagine the only effect that would have had would be to make Dawkins' letter more strongly worded.

    3. @Mark Baylor, I'm sure he would have publicly denounced his previous claims if that was the case, but he has instead published a book which includes information supporting "transgenic imports". This book was published in 2004. This article published through The Richard Dawkins Foundation website. A prime example of anti-GM people's unwillingness to consider scientific innovation, but instead demonize scientists, as if all scientists were as movies unceasingly portray them, as evil scientists ie Frankenstein, marvel super hero movies etc…
      http://old.richarddawkins.net/videos/645814-open-letter-and-video-re-threat-to-gm-research

    4. James, I say this to fundy xians — would you REALLY change your mind? No. Tweak it at best, but in the end hold stronger because that's where your emotions are. You can look the stuff up if you really want to question.

    5. Perhaps not being overly clear was the problem…it's not the GM technology or the GM crops themselves, but all the other aspects of the process that produce the harmful effects. We do know of the mountain of evidence related to the pesticides and fertilizers used on GM crops, and that is what he was referring to in the discussion this was mentioned in. Honestly, I do not "favorite/like" the majority of the videos I watch any more than I bookmark every interesting web page. I did not intend to allude to Dawkins saying GMO's are unsafe, he was simply agreeing with the assessment that due to the "additions" during the growth process, that the ENTIRE PROCESS from planting to plate needs further review to be able to validate GM crops as fully safe for consumption. Not because the GM tech isn't safe, but because of what's being done to the GM crops.

    6. To be clear, I have the utmost respect for Richard Dawkins and his work. I am not a geneticist, nor do I play one in a video game, but I am a Biology – Plant Science major and his work has been instrumental in my desire to learn more about genetics as a whole, specifically how it applies to plants. My views on GMO's have changed radically with enlightenment, but while the GM technology is awesome to say the least, that does not mean that all of it's products are equally impressive.

    7. I came back to relay some info and sources, but I took entirely too long to read all of your comments. It's unfortunately obvious to me that you're the opposite side of the extremism that anti-gmo people have. Seems to be a lot of "unless someone I feel I can trust hands me my opinion on whether there is reason to evaluate something, I'll just stick to my guns and says there's not" (dangerously similar to another of Dawkins favorite topics). You refuse to accept reasonable skepticism, something Dawkins reveres. If you are as involved in this field as you suggest, there is no question you're intelligent enough to make observations that lead you to "connect dots", let alone understand a need for unending research as long as the products of that research are constantly changing. I'm not going any farther with this than to say if you refuse to accept anything as possible or plausible until AFTER it's been published in peer review, you'll always be repeating others work, never actually producing any.

      Not trying to be insulting, simply making an assessment of several combined observations…

    8. Donovan Spoonerific Bock Do you think that if a study is done by Monsanto or Syngenta it is not subject to rigorous peer review. Scientists will rip a study apart not matter what side they are on. And yes Mark, until it is peer reviewed it is not a credible source.

      " you'll always be repeating others work, never actually producing any." Now you are just making excuses for using garbage science.

  30. Paleo/Primal diet followers don't have any of these issues either. Your science and information is flawed. The world can be fed without relying on grains that are all harmful to humans. It takes some balanced planning by properly rotating crops and rotating ranched animals using agricultural science but many farmers have proven it can be done. 13 years ago this was not known.

  31. I just lost tons of respect for richard. wtf. hes on THEIR* team…. either mon$atan is paying him, or they drugged him with scopomaline….

    no evidence? he is either blind, or drugged… or both! pure ignorance! STUDIES HAVE PROVEN GMO'S CAUSED TUMORS AND DEFECTS IN RATS AFTER THE 3RD GENERATION… WE DOn't EVEN KNOW THE EFFECT OF THE 2ND GENERATION ON US! STUPID FUKS!

  32. I just lost tons of respect for richard. wtf. hes on THEIR* team…. either mon$atan is paying him, or they drugged him with scopomaline….

    no evidence? he is either blind, or drugged… or both! pure ignorance! STUDIES HAVE PROVEN GMO'S CAUSED TUMORS AND DEFECTS IN RATS AFTER THE 3RD GENERATION… WE DOn't EVEN KNOW THE EFFECT OF THE 2ND GENERATION ON US! STUPID FUKS!

    1. Pedro, it's critical to revisit the 1st line of this article…"13 years ago…Dawkins wrote" … however, the 2nd line, added by the author, is not accurate. It does not ring as true today now that we have evidence to show it's potentially harmful. Dawkins has recently stated he feels a great need for more research on the topic. His former understanding was changed based on new evidence. Something I fear the author of this article has not yet reviewed.

    2. Mark Baylor Dawkins has remained consistent in his anti-anti-GMO attitude. The Richard Dawkins Institute supports mostly pro-GMO writers. Again, the evidence showing harm of GMO's is just not there. It's not as compelling or as well done as you think it is.

    3. Whilst there are a number of possible issues from the french study (and one of the authors was a homeopath…) there are a couple of points which often get lost when discussing this. The journal they published the research in was exactly the same journal monsanto published their research on this strain of GM maize and roundup – they used exactly the same breed of rats as monsanto and the size of the groups (20 x 9 with one group of 20 being the control) was the same as Monsanto's the big difference being Monsanto's study lasted for 90 days (all that is required by law) and the french one 600 days – the study left a lot to be desired however the double standards when criticising this study should be weighed in balance against the study monsanto did and then you have to conclude that some of the same criticisms whould be levelled at Monsanto and yet this has not happened. DOn't get me wrong there is a cultural issue here between Western Europs (france in particular) and the US which has to be taken into consideration but it is this lack of balance which concerns me – not as much as the question of how we are going to feed the world moving forward – but Dawkins as much as I love the guy – unfortunately sometimes fails to see the nuance in the practical application of his normally prescient observations – but hey none of us are perfect. We probably/definitely are going to need all the help we can get from GM unfortunately the way our system is set-up with a couple of large players driven by a desire for Profit and an unhealthy relationship with government and just a cursory glance of the past 40 years and the green revolution gives cause for optimism as to what is possible and also genuine concern as to what Monsanto thinks is acceptable – perhaps this is the price we are going to have to pay – but I think it is going to be a very high one – unfortunately there is no apparent alternative so enjoy the ride it's going to be messy….

    4. Where's your evidence? It'd be good if you could produce some otherwise people might think you're a stupid fuck. (there's a k on the end of Fuck. Thought I'd point that out so next time you write it people don't think you're stupid)

    5. Pedro, you probably read the report at 'Natural News' of the allegedly comprehensive research study which showed that rats eating Monsanto GM corn developed "horrifying tumours, widespread organ damage, and premature death." The problem is when you read the actual study you find that the rats were fed genetically modified corn (GM corn) AND trace levels of Monsanto's Roundup chemical fertilizer and the methodology was completely flawed. The study was roundly criticised by respected scientists: http://rt.com/news/seralini-corn-cancer-monsanto-study-987/

      The national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology and veterinary studies issued a joint statement condemning the findings on Monsanto’s NK603 corn, which were published last month by molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen.
      "Given the numerous gaps in methods and interpretation, the data presented in this article cannot challenge previous studies which have concluded that NK603 corn is harmless from the health point of view, s are, more generally, genetically modified plants that have been authorised for consumption by animals and humans,” the statement read.
      In their statement, the academies questioned Séralini’s integrity. His study, co-authored with Dr. Spiroux, a homeopathy and acupuncture specialist, was largely financed by anti-GM activists and organic food supermarkets. The findings were then disseminated through a group of handpicked sympathetic journalists, who signed a confidentiality clause forbidding them to show the paper to other scientists prior to publication.

      With just a few articles, these journalists set off a media firestorm that renewed concerns about GM foods and forced the mainstream scientific establishment onto the defensive.
      "Hyping the reputation of a scientist or a team is a serious misdemeanour when it helps to spread fear among the public that is not based on any firm conclusion,” the academies’ statement said.

      The paper also earned widespread criticism for its methodology. Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King's College London, saying the study was a “statistical fishing trip, “manipulated from the start to achieve a specific result.
      Séralini used Sprague-Dawley rats for the study. This sub-species is highly susceptible to developing tumours’, with two-thirds of males and more than half of females expected to die from cancer during the course of a two-year experiment regardless of what they ingested!
      This ubiquity of tumours’ makes them an unusual choice for a study about carcinogenic effects of a certain food, as it can be difficult to discern from an already astronomically high cancer rate. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recommends that only rats with a survival rate of more than 50 percent, which are easily available, be used in two-year studies.

      The second major criticism of the study was its small sample size. The OECD recommends that 50 rats of each sex be used in any test group. Séralini used test groups of ten, meaning the control group for two years was only twenty rats in total. The difference between the groups fed NK603 corn and the control group was one or two dead rats over a period of two years.
      In some cases, the results direct contradicted the study’s claims: some rats subjected to a diet of Roundup corn had a better survival rate over the two-year period than ones fed an organic diet. Rather than believing that drinking water contaminated with pesticides helps to decrease cancer, critics say that in such a small sample size noticeable differences in results can be explained by chance.
      Séralini, who has caused several similar controversies with other anti-GM studies since 2004, responded to the criticism by saying he stands by his conclusions. However, he has refused to share the detailed the observation records that formed the foundation of his paper until genetically-modified foods are banned by European authorities.

    6. @Tom Baxter, you are repeating information you read in an article, (I've seen these words almost verbatim several times) I guarantee, you will be unable to find this "monsanto study" you speak of in that journal. Even if it was in this journal, there have been many studies done since the first GM product as approved commercially that were not in this journal and were completed with different methods; hundreds, perhaps thousands. I can easily produce evidence. Sadly, as I've read repeatedly, the reality of the anti-gm crowd is that anyone who claims safety in GM foods must have been paid off. Your logic is that thousands of highly educated people who do not live in 3rd world countries are so unethical that they will accept money to lie to the world and harm almost the entire population in the process, even though they are completely capable of earning a very abundant income without accepting bribery. Safety of GM food is not isolated to one company, this is internationally accepted by many organizations. Large companies are the only "players" because it takes over 100 million dollars and many years to get a product approved into the market, on top of that, the need to defend it from the ever skeptical public and those that steal the product… being involved with politics is imperative for this product to be protected from uneducated citizens who are afraid of "frankenfood" as we see with other countries such as those in Europe, Japan, and Russia, politicians can be swayed in spite of what the scientists of those countries have stated: that it is as safe as non-gm counterparts, they also have researched/tested and this is internationally the consensus…. Smaller companies would not be able to stay afloat with these hurdles. Evidence is imperative if you are going to make all these claims about the lack of safety: The following article includes references at the end, 42 peer reviewed studies in just one publication. There are others besides the PubMed database, I will provide an example, not that you will believe or bother to read: http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/articles/biotech-art/peer-reviewed-pubs.html http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691506000093 Foreign sources: http://www.bsbanet.org/en/publications/

    7. Michael Simpson The Seralini study reported that, in rats, consumption of Monsanto's GM corn variety NK603 was associated with earlier death and an increased risk of tumors. I would not draw a firm conclusion from a single study but I think it's wise to maintain a healthy skepticism about GMO food. Unfortunately, most of the available studies are (unlike Seralini) from scientists working for or funded by the food industry. There is a risk that the results of studies with adverse results are not seeing the light of day. I'd like to see an extended, independently funded study building on the Seralini research to establish whether the results can be recreated.

      Richard Dawkins' point about genetic modification being something we have done for thousands of years rings hollow. He knows perfectly well that there is a difference between the type of artificial selection that our ancestors did (vertical gene transfer) and the splicing in of genes from other organisms (horizontal gene transfer) that we can now do.

      Think back to the time when cigarette companies were selectively releasing studies by their own scientists casting doubt on the risks of their product. I enjoy Richard Dawkins' work and I think we should all try to approach life as rationally as we can. And it is perfectly rational to buy organic food and let others take part in the giant, uncontrolled experiment into GMO that the US food supply has become.

    8. Jame Doogue – Roundup is a pesticide, specifically a herbicide. It's not fertilizer, it's a poison. Farmer's in India driven to the poorhouse by Monsanto's business practices drink it to commit suicide. Of course, there would be "trace levels" of Roundup in livestock feed made from sprayed crops. Many oppose this type of GM because it promotes the use of pesticides.

      Up until the 1980s we used to "walk beans" in central Illinois. That is, we walked through hundreds of acres of soybeans every year and manually weeded them. It was a staple of employment for kids. In the 80s farmers started buying "bean buggies" and drove them down the rows while squirting weeds with Roundup. Now they're spraying that shit all around my house with big machine, airplanes and helicopters and I oppose Roundup Ready beans because of that. I'd much rather have some kids making a little spending money walking around my house than have Roundup up sprayed all over. I don't want to be exposed to it and end up like the French rats!

    9. Kelly, M. Bray: You are falling all over yourself for Mr. Dawkins, the scientist, with some odd religious fervor, but I have yet to read one argument of you that goes beyond ad hominem attacks, which you ironically accuse others of making. The only thing you can do is regurgitate the talking points of the Monsanto propaganda machine. Are you a paid plant, or something? Unfortunately, anti-vaxxers, fans of homeopathy, and others spreading the junk science gospel are all thrown together in one big pot, which makes it very hard for people who have nothing whatsoever to do with that fringe crowd to bring up valid concerns. How convenient and lazy it all is to paint us all as "dirty hippies."

    10. Gerry, you should read my next post about the true meaning of skepticism. You're not being a scientific skeptic, you're just being curmudgeonly. Skepticism requires holding evidence, and that evidence which is found scientifically, not through logical fallacies, at the highest possible level. And you're so wrong about genetic engineering vs. artificial selection. Do you know how many plants incorporate viral and bacterial genes to gain an advantage? You want to start with peanuts, and how they use bacteria to fix nitrogen?

    11. "THEIR team"? You completely missed the point of this article, as well as the purpose of science in general. Science is not about reducing every issue into a (false) dichotomy, it's about taking out politics and pre-existing opinions and taking a completely impartial look at the evidence. Genetic modification of food is a complicated issue, and really needs to be treated as such.

  33. Are you serious? Have you read a food label lately? Of course our food was better 50 years ago for the most part. Our grandmothers know to prepare a balanced meal with locally grown/raised food that was seasonal. Compare that to a McNugget. If you have any doubt, just look at obesity crisis, heart desease, cancer! This is all due to what we eat. Organic vegans don't have any of these issues.
    If the USDA or Monsanto and General Mills… believed GMs were harmless, then why try to damn hard to hide it? Obviously nothing is truly black or white, so let me eat what I want and you eat what you eat.

    1. Food was better 50 years ago? I'm not sure I can even respond to you based on that ignorant and revisionist claim.

      The reason we shouldn't label foods with nonsense claims, like whether they are GMO or not, is because it will skyrocket the cost of food. You elitists, stuck in your anti-science beliefs, don't care about the poor, who would be stuck in paying MORE for food that has no added value to the consumer.

      Really, if you want to be an elitist, please take your anti-science logic to the Republican elitists who use the same exact arguments as you to deny global warming. No different. I hope you're proud of your education that your science knowledge is the same as your every day Big Oil global warming denier.

    2. We have a choice in what we eat. I can choose to purchase vegetables and cook a meal at home or I can go through a drive-through at McDonalds. I choose to cook at home, my family is healthy, there are plenty of families that do this…. If people are choosing to eat unhealthy foods and have a sedentary life, the result is the health problems that you've mentioned. This has nothing to do with GE/GM foods. You have the option to eat organic vegan foods and even locally grown foods, I don't understand why people are so upset and claim they don't have that choice. I'm assuming you are referring to "hiding" GM foods by not labeling products containing them. At this point, a significant portion of our country has been very misinformed about GM foods and thus by imposing labels on foods, ultimately that would drive out GM foods with the significant drop in demand, which is what the organic industry wants as Joseph Mercola admitted (I'm sure you know who Mercola is, being anti-gm). This is what has happened in Europe. It would be a tragedy for our uncleared forests as more land would be required and prices would go up for everyone. http://theconversation.com/calls-for-labelling-gm-food-reveal-attempts-at-market-domination-9873

    3. Michael Simpson I support GM technology and Genetic Engineering as a science, however…your argument is weak. I fear you may have been influenced by the corporate white-washing for why they choose not to label "GMO inside. Gerber Baby Food, as an example…showed that adding the current nutritional info to their label (based on the changes that required inclusion of % of proteins, fats, sodium, etc) to be approximately $0.007 per unit…less than a 10th of a cent per package. They made that info public 20 years ago when people cried out that the new labelling would price them out of baby food. Gerber assured it's customers that simply was not the case. So yes, it would increase costs…but no more so than paying an extra 1.2 cents per dozen of jars of baby food (per this example)
      The more you know…

    4. Dude, your feel-good-wholesome-warm-fuzzy idealism doesn't change the past. There are vegans who are fat, actually, but yes, people who are vegan or buy "organic" tend to be healthier — of course — but it has nothing to do with this concept!

      People getting fat off McDonalds has nothing to do with this concept either! You're just doing a cultural generalization. People who are anti-GM tend to eat better — therefore, they are correct about anything they say in regards to food? WTF? It's a political lifestyle belief — you don't want GM because it hurts your cultural beliefs. You don't need evidence — like Michelle Bachman you don't care — it's an association of living that matters. Facts? Evidence? Only if it bolsters your feel-good claim — ignore the rest.

    5. I have to say that a lot of the foodstuffs way back were crap. We have moved on, with better preservatives and flavourings, etc., and SAFER ones too. We can't all afford to buy fresh meat and fruit and veg every day, especially in the big cities, so POPULAR processed foods have a place to play in a cheap, BALANCED diet. The reason we have so many problems with obesity is more down to people eating too much and having a much more sedentary lifestyle than 50 years ago.

      As far as "organic" foodstuffs goes, AHAHAHAHAHA…actually find out about these as opposed to seeing them as some universal panacea. What do you think they do when a cow gets mastitis? Maybe they kick its udders better? What about the fruit and veg? You certainly get stuff with less pesticide and herbicide residues, but you pay over the odds as you require more land per item, and much more additional input. BTW, have you noticed, (certainly in the UK) how many farmers dropped their organic ventures as the prices started to lower towards current produce from conventional farms?

    6. I am unaware of mandating labels on "organic" foods; companies voluntarily put them on to attract customers (who can afford them). If there is a market for "non-GM" foods, companies will do the same — heck, organic probably will mean non-GM too.

    7. Yolanda Kat Bertaud You are good at copy and paste. Can you make a coherent argument yourself? Try giving a synopsis of what you think the link means so we don't have to dig around in it. Your last link was a dead end.

    8. So, Michael, exactly how much research have you done into a Paleo/Primal diet? Your comment, taken at face value, shows remarkable ignorance for someone so learned. The premise of diet is less about "eat what we evolved with," than it is, "don't eat stuff we didn't evolve with."

      I don't buy the notion that we can truly feed the world on a no-grain diet, but expecting a population to thrive on a diet comprised of at least 50% filler-calories (from a nutritional point of view) doesn't appear to be in the best interest of the INDIVIDUAL.

      I won't sit here and declare an ancestral-based diet to be the end-all/be-all of human nutrition, but you would be very hard pressed to make an irrefutable argument that a diet based around grain provides optimum health for the individual. I say irrefutable vs. compelling or convincing simply due to the breath of research in the field of nutrition; you can easily pick & choose research studies to support the superiority of virtually any diet on the planet.

    9. Erin Ennis. Actually I've done a ton of research on nutrition. But here's the point. You're making the ridiculous claim. And if you read a lot of what I write here (I know, most people on the internet read one thing and move along), you'd know that I'm a scientific skeptic, and as such, I place the highest possible level of respect for high quality evidence. Thus, if you're going to make an extraordinary claim, you need to bring me the extraordinary evidence. Please give me peer-reviewed, high impact factor journal articles that 1) show me exactly what paleos ate (I'm not holding my breath, and 2) that it has any health benefit. A couple of words of advice. I've done the hard work, but I'm willing to be surprised. And check the impact factor of the journal that published your article. An impact factor of less than 5 means it's crap. I'm actually giving you a break there, because in academia, publishing in any journal with an impact factor of less than 10 isn't counted towards meeting the requirements of tenure.

      Youtube, books, and newspaper articles are deprecated here.

      You've got so much explaining to do, starting with the fact that we live longer and healthier than the paleos ever did.

    10. They want to hide it because it scares the ignorant and uninformed. Organic vegans don't have obesity issues because many are malnourished. As for the rest, is upload they have no genetic material so they won't get any disease, ever. Uh huh.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.