Solid GMO scientific consensus – based on real science

Solid GMO scientific consensus – based on real science

Over and over, I’ve read comments on the internet (obviously, my first mistake) that there is no GMO scientific consensus regarding whether genetically modified organisms (generally crops or food) are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. Well, that’s simply not the case.

Furthermore, there are even claims that GMOs are not necessarily productive or provide higher yields, and so called organic foods are healthier (they aren’t) and are better for the environment. Again, that’s not necessarily the case.

Let’s look at anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, since it also has this huge controversy over whether there’s a scientific consensus. Over 97% of published articles that expressed a conclusion about anthropogenic climate change endorsed human caused global warming. If that were a vote, it would be a landslide that would make dictators jealous.

According to Skeptical Science, it’s even more than that:

We should also consider official scientific bodies and what they think about climate change. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change. Not one.

The consensus is so clear, outside of vocal, loud and junk science pushing individuals and organizations, that many scientists call it the “Theory of anthropogenic climate change,” which would mean it’s at the pinnacle of scientific principles, essentially an unassailable fact.

 

What is a scientific consensus?

scientific consensus is the collective opinion and judgement of scientists in a particular field of study, based on the quality and quantity of evidence. This consensus implies general agreement, and disagreement is usually limited and generally insignificant.

There is no vote to get this consensus. There is not secret organization that proclaims a consensus.

It’s actually a glacial process from preliminary observations to a point where scientists accept it as the consensus–there’s never really a moment when it becomes a consensus until you’ve passed that point.

It’s generally based on high quality evidence, the best out there. It’s evidence that’s been put through the bright lights of criticism. It’s not done in a backroom of some ancient ivory tower institution, over champagne and caviar.

The first thing you have to know is that a scientific consensus isn’t even close to a consensus you might find in a political meeting or a business team. In the laymen’s use of the term, a consensus is equal to general agreement to move forward. It may or may not arrive because of good evidence, but it’s mostly a method to come to a decision.

Scientific consensus is a lot less formal, and much more reliant upon the quality and quantity of evidence. There is debating about the evidence, but usually through more research, and questioning and answering of new ideas.

The scientific consensus is based on the accrued data, but it has been thoroughly scrutinized by the experts in the field over time. When we talk about the scientific consensus of climate change (or vaccines or GMOs or evolution), these weren’t made by a bunch of journalists or baseball players sitting in that room with food and drinks. It’s made by literally hundreds or thousands of scientists in that field that have many accumulated years of experience and knowledge.

And let me reiterate–this knowledge doesn’t come by hours or days of “research” on Google or reading biased information. If a few thousand geologists, climatologists, and biologists give us a scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real, then that’s solid knowledge.

If you want to dispute this, then you need the accumulated hundreds of thousands of research years of evidence from thousands of real scientists–and then you better be willing to argue your contradicting views in the scientific world, not by being some talking head on Fox News without any real scientific credentials.

Scientific deniers, those who refuse to accept the volume of scientific data without offering the same amount and quality of evidence, are the evil twins of real science.

Now I want to be absolutely clear–the scientific consensus can be overturned. But it’s not a vote, nor is it a debate. It is scientific evidence of equal or better quality and quantity than what established the consensus. And since science is not dogmatic and close-minded, there can be glacial change from one consensus to another. And it’s rare, because arriving at the consensus is based on such huge volumes of evidence, it generally is considered a fact.

The solid GMO scientific consensus

Above, I used the example of climate change as an established scientific consensus. The deniers use all kinds of silly logical fallacies like cherry picking studies that support the denialist opinion, appeal to false authority to show off a denialist scientist, and too many more to mention.

Ironically, there is a huge overlap between climate change supporters (using all of the science in support) and GMO deniers (using all of the science ignorance available to them). To be fair, it is also ironic there’s a small, but significant, overlap between GMO supporters and climate change deniers.

You cannot pick and chose your science to meet your ignorance-based pre-ordained conclusions. It constantly breaks my irony meter. Don’t get me started on vaccine supporters who hate GMOs.

The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Sciences) has also released a statement regarding a GMO scientific consensus  (pdf):

The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe … The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.

The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences is an international non-profit organization that has as its stated goals to promote cooperation among scientists, to defend scientific freedom, to encourage scientific responsibility, and to support scientific education and science outreach for the betterment of all humanity. It is the world’s largest and most prestigious general scientific society, and is the publisher of the well-known scientific journal Science

It assembles broad panels of scientists in particular fields of sciences, true experts, to review the scientific data. They then determine if there is a consensus based a little on where the evidence is published (better journals mean better evidence, usually), the quantity of evidence, and how other research is influence by the accumulated data.

And it’s not just one American-based scientific organization that has come to a GMO scientific consensus. There are several others which have publicly stated that GMOs are safe for the environment, for human consumption, and for livestock. If there’s some sort of aggressive conspiracy to get all of these American, European, UN, and other organizations to gather in secret to come to some outrageous lie about GMOs, then you’ll have to show that. These are independent scientific bodies who are respected worldwide.

Climate change has been investigated for over 40 years, before we eventually got a scientific consensus. GMOs have been around for 10,000 years, give or take, and we have been studying them for several decades too. The consensus for both are so solid, disputing them is borderline denialism, nothing different than someone spouting off that evolution is a lie and the earth is only 6000 years old.

 

Evidence of solid GMO scientific consensus

There are literally hundreds of scientific articles, most lacking any conflict of interest with those companies who are considered to be a part of the Monsanto shill gambit, that support four important conclusions about GMO crops:

  1. GMO foods are safe for human consumption. Of course, this is a ridiculous concern since these genes cannot possibly have any effect on humans, since they cannot be incorporated into the human genome, nor can they have any effect on humans. There is no biological plausibility that GMOs have an effect on any biological organism.
  2. GMO crops are safe for other animals.
  3. GMO crops increase crop yields and reduce pesticide use.
  4. And GMO crops are safe for the environment.

As I’ve said many times, there is a hierarchy of scientific evidence from systematic reviews down to junk pushed on the internet. There are many systematic reviews, which takes the best data from all other research and merges it into one giant analysis, which support the safety and yield from GMOs.

One study, that reviewed over 10 years of research into GMO safety,  found that:

  • The scientific literature was heavily in favor of the safety, to both the environment and to humans, of GM based agriculture.
  • Environmental impact studies are predominant in the body of GM research, making up 68% of the 1,783 studies. These studies investigated environmental impact on the crop-level, farm-level and landscape-level.The researchers found “little to no evidence” that GM crops have a negative environmental impact on their surroundings.
  • Little to no evidence that GM agriculture harms native animal species.

A recent systematic review on the impacts of GMOs examined over 147 published articles. This meta-analysis concentrates on the most important GM crops–including herbicide-tolerant soybean, maize, and cotton, as well as insect-resistant maize and cotton. These crops represent a sufficiently large number of original impact studies which have been published to estimate meaningful average effect sizes.

The authors’ meta-review provides the following conclusions:

  • GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%.
  • GM technology increased crop yields by 22%.
  • GM technology increased farmer profits by 68%.
  • Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

The authors found that:

The meta-analysis reveals robust evidence of GM crop benefits for farmers in developed and developing countries. Such evidence may help to gradually increase public trust in this technology.

The solid GMO scientific consensus is nearly the same as the consensus for anthropogenic climate change. Over 89% of scientists who have some expertise in GMOs accept that GMO crops are safe. So those of you who think that science supports one but not the other–well you’d be wrong.

 

The TL;DR version

  • There is scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change is supported by the evidence.
  • There is scientific consensus regarding the safety and productivity yields of GMO crops is supported by the evidence.
  • The vast majority of scientific experts in the field are part of each consensus.
  • If you are a denier about one, but not the other because the science supports one or another, you’re still a denier. But this is about the solid GMO scientific consensus, and it is solid–as solid as the consensus about evolution, climate change, vaccines, or gravity.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2015. It has been completely revised and updated to include more comprehensive information, to improve readability and to add current research.

Key citations

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

    Hmmm…
    (prior article)
    “As I’ve written dozens of times, the DNA of foods is broken down into nucleic acids before
    absorbed. Nucleic acids are the same across every single species on
    this planet, and there’s no difference between the nucleic acids in a
    GMO salmon and the ones in your own body. To believe that somehow the
    two transgenic genes (as opposed to the 40,000 other ones) are going to
    induce some harm in a human is illogical, unscientific, and implausible.”

    (now)
    “GMO foods are safe for human consumption.
    Of course, this is a ridiculous concern since these genes cannot
    possibly have any effect on humans, since they cannot be incorporated
    into the human genome, nor can they have any effect on humans. There is
    no biological plausibility that GMOs have an effect on any biological
    organism.”

    In one of my useless college courses (likely English) a classmate stood in front of the class, and for 20 minutes reiterated his feelings on Splenda. One of his core arguments against the product was “chloride compounds don’t exist in nature and are never safe for consumption.” I couldn’t decide if he should be castrated for idiocy, or applauded for converting a large portion of the idiots in the class…

    I feel the same about these statements.

    The meat you eat, is not comprised *solely* of DNA, and many substances are readily absorbed into your system that are not degraded to nucleic acids, as is easily proven by the PO pharmaceutical industry… and life in general. I’m a big supporter of the GMO fish, I think it’ll save our native populations, and really… who cares if the rest of the world has to ‘treat’ themselves to something akin to engorged pond leaches?

    My inquiry would be: Are the hormones that are excreted by the critters potentially absorbed and utilized by the human body? How might these effect the population? If they’re passed without absorption, how could it effect other native populations?

    I’m beginning to think you’re a terrible skeptic.

    Skeptics need to be less of a tool/more intelligent & inquisitive than everyone else… you may just be ‘lame’… or average at best. <3

  • Jay Henning

    This is interesting, thank you. What is your view on this statement by scientists:

    http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/s12302-014-0034-1.pdf

    According to this, a lot of your statements are false.

    • First of all, science isn’t a democracy. I don’t care if 300 or 3000 scientists signed some document opposing the consensus.

      The creationist community has done this for years. They have something called “Scientific Dissent from Evolution.” It’s essentially a petition signed by 1000 scientists who claim that evolution isn’t real science.

      Of course, the millions of other scientists who accept evolution as a scientific fact would vote them down. If science were a democracy.

      The consensus about GMOs is based on real scientific evidence (again, it’s not a vote, it’s about the evidence). The consensus was established by some of the most prestigious scientific institutions on this planet.

      Just because a group of environmental radicals whine about the consensus, does not make it so. They lack evidence. But they’re really good at a few lame logical fallacies.

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  • Karl Baba

    The idea that GMO’s are inherently safety is anti-scientific and preposterous based on the following indisputable fact:
    GMO technology is a tool, not a food in itself. This tool can theoretically be used to create deadly poisonous foods, although obviously that is not the intent. There is nothing inherently safe about it, it just depends on the genes and traits that are introduced into the food. Thus, GMO safety depends entirely on the “Devil in the details” regarding any particular food and its effect on the environment and the body. What could be the unintended consequences.
    Calling all GMOs safe would be the same as calling all new chemicals inherently safe, can’t be done. Even Hybrid technology can be dangerous as evidence by the toxic Lenape potato, how many more dangerous combinations are possible when the restriction of nature’s laws are bypassed and the combinations become infinite?

    To nitpick a few remarks from the article…
    “There is no biological plausibility that GMOs have an effect on any biological organism.” Patently false right? Be careful with your words, after all the whole point of GMO BT toxin crops is to kill bugs that try to eat it.

    Speaking of BT toxin, when you make the claim “GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%.” Does that take into consideration the amount of pesticide which is now incorporated inside the plant? Unable to be washed off or taken off with the husk? Seems evident that GMOs have Increased herbicide use as that’s what “Round-up ready” plants are intended to facilitate.

    to note a key deficit in current GMO studies, little is researched about the effect of GMO crops on gut bacteria. This is significant as after decades of the FDA telling us artificial sweeteners were proven safe, new studies demonstrate artificial sweeteners effect on gut bacteria led to glucose intolerance (the road to diabetes)

    • You are stating an opinion, not scientific facts. You may think you’re opinion is right, but it is contradicted by the vast wealth of scientific knowledge.

      You obviously have no idea what constitutes biological plausibility. Seriously, you must think that somehow a gene from a plant can get into a human. How the fuck does it do that. You’re laughably ignorant.

      You cherry pick data to confirm YOUR opinion, yet ignore the vast wealth of real data that actually shows that I’m right and you’re not. Again, your arrogance presumes you know more than Nobel Prize winning scientists. That’s so laughable I think I wet myself.

      And you’re conflating pesticides with GMOs. Nothing I can do about your ignorance of that.

      • Karl Baba

        Gosh, I had no idea you were that much of an Idiot, hiding behind a veneer of science rather than practicing it. I am not conflating pesticides with GMOs, some GMOs are intended to incorporate BT toxin, a pesticide, into the plant.

        My example of the Lenape potato (look it up) should make it obvious that GMO technology is not defacto safe even as hydrid technology isn’t even defacto safe.

        You write “Seriously, you must think that somehow a gene from a plant can get into a human.” Even though I wasn’t talking about horizontal gene transfer (what you are referring to) it has been proven to occur. Remember also that horizontal gene transfer to gut bacteria is far more common and plausible and that such bacteria play a huge role in our health.

        Here’s a paper about just such an issue and I could post a lot more.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1364539/

        http://www.i-sis.org.uk/horizontalGeneTransfer.php

        It’s totally basic common sense that dangerous GMO is possible which you say nothing to refute but resort to snark. Skepticism should run both ways and employ science both ways. You’re just an apologist, not a skeptic.

        • Mike Gallego

          “There is no biological plausibility that GMOs have an effect on any biological organism…. other than tiny bugs.” There. Is that better?
          Bt dissolves the instant it hits your stomach acid. No worries.

          The Bt’s in GMO food weighs 4 lbs. per acre crop. The pesticides sprayed on ‘Organic’ crops weigh 100 lbs. per acre, per application.
          All GMOs to date are safe. “GM ‘technology’ could be used to create harmful GMOs” is true. Poisoning your customer base is not good for business, though.

      • Matt Trejo

        I’m not anti GMO, but I don’t see how Karl’s logic isn’t sound. You could, in theory, genetically modify something to be poisonous. It doesn’t really require a lot of scientific background to reason that. I guess the question is how likely is it that scientists do this by accident. That does require a good background, and I have no idea. Also, I’d like to point out the nature fallacy that Karl uses. Nature doesn’t have laws or restrictions that prevent foods from being harmful. Mutations are random.

        • Yes, you could do that modification, but that would be intentional and there would be reasons for it. And you’d have to prove that there’s some sort of safety regulations that would protect us.

          There is a genetically modified safflower that produces human insulin. Technically, it could be dangerous (though you cannot consume insulin and have any effect, the digestive tract would just break it down to amino acids).

          Yeah, I missed the Naturalistic Fallacy. I don’t understand why people think that “nature” is endowed with supernatural powers. Nature is random and quite unintelligent.

          “Nature” gave us earthquakes, hurricanes, poisonous plants, and viruses. Obviously a sociopath. 8^)

  • NotAnAmericanIdiot

    No consensus why should a person believe you and your “sources” over a former bio-technician http://organicconnectmag.com/project/former-gmo-engineer-drops-biotech-and-goes-organic/

    • LMFAO. I have Nobel Prize winners. You have an opinion that is wrong. Bring real evidence, and not an Appeal to False Authority, and we can talk. But otherwise, you’re just simply an American Idiot.

  • NotAnAmericanIdiot

    I go where logic takes and climate change is obvious logic. GMo’s being dangerous is also obvious logic. Once the food gets to the grocery it MAY possibly be as safe or maybe even safer than organic. but in my logical opinion using obiously toxic chemicals is obvously dangerous to nature. and their are MANY scientific studies to back that up. it’s logical gmo’s are dangerous and climate change is logical and proven. Just makes sense. always open minded so will keep researching gmo’s , but as it stands now , they are imo very dangerous. I’m really talking about the growing process and interaction with nature rather than the finished product.

    • So your logic is more valid than the vast majority of scientists? Really? Do tell. You have a Nobel Prize that establishes some novel method for GMOs to transfer their genes into humans or any animal? I’d love to know about that.

      BTW, you’re conflating GMOs with “chemicals.” You’re wrong on both points, but your conflating two separate issues indicates your lack of logic and intellectual superiority to all those great scientists out there. Go look up Dunning Kruger. You really need help.

    • You really need to review your Dunning Kruger cognitive biases. Because YOU seem to believe your “following logic” is so much better than most of the scientists who have spent careers studying this. YOU apparently have a Nobel Prize in Physiology because you obviously have discovered some novel, yet completely missed, way that GMOs can affect humans. Please provide us with peer-reviewed studies that show how brilliant you are.

      Moreover, you are conflating GMOs with chemicals. This again betrays your simple lack of knowledge. You are an American Idiot. Than you Green Day.

  • NotAnAmericanIdiot
    • Yes, because these people are soooooo much more knowledgeable than all the scientists that say you and your pseudoscience pushing nutjobs are full of it.

      See Dunning Kruger again.

  • mcrockett

    I saw this posted on Facebook and had to read it, as I haven’t done enough research about GMOs to sway me from my current skeptical stance. It’s a very interesting post and provides some good insight to why people say there’s a consensus on this topic.

    However, some of what you say seems a little misleading. I have yet to examine all the sources you list, but I’ve already come across one you misrepresented. You state quite unequivocally, “Over 89% of scientists who have some expertise in GMOs accept that GMO crops are safe.” Your link there, though, led me to a blog that was quoting a Pew Research Center study that ONLY INTERVIEWED A FEW AAAS SCIENTISTS to give us that statistic. Are you trying to tell me that only these AAAS scientists “have some expertise in GMOs” (and therefore can possibly have anything useful to say on the subject)?

    • Chris Preston

      3,748 scientists is not ecactly a few. It is a large enough sample to get a value that is correct within 1%.

      The AAAS itself has 129,000 members, so is reasonably representative of scientists as a whole.

      • mcrockett

        Perhaps the study speaks for AAAS scientists, then, but I’m not sure I buy that AAAS scientists accurately reflect the thoughts of absolutely all scientists everywhere. (That’s a bold claim.) Isn’t that rather like surveying a few thousand (or even more) Texans and then claiming the results reflect the thoughts of all Americans? I’m not sure either way; it just doesn’t seem quite right to me and doesn’t jive with what I know about samples in statistics. Sample composition matters too, not just sample size, right?

        • Chris Preston

          Perhaps the study speaks for AAAS scientists, then, but I’m not sure I buy that AAAS scientists accurately reflect the thoughts of absolutely all scientists everywhere.

          The membership of the AAAS contains most of the leading scientists within the USA and Canada and many leading scientists in other countries. So perhaps you are correct, it doesn’t represent all scientists. Maybe the statement should be more accurate and state that 89% of leading scientists agree with the consensus position.

          Additionally, in order to know whether you could be accurate within 1%, wouldn’t you need to know the population size?

          The percentage margin of error in a survey is entirely a result of the number surveyed. Population size the sample comes from is irrelevant.

          Something else that gives me pause is the 11% of those scientists who disagreed. I know we can’t expect 100% consensus. That’s not what I’m getting at. What doesn’t sit right with me is that this blog post takes the tone of, “If you don’t agree with this, you’re an absolute idiot.” Are those scientists just idiots, then? That doesn’t make sense, considering the author holds AAAS scientists in the highest esteem. If they’re not idiots, then they must have logical reasons for disagreeing. And if they have logical reasons for disagreeing, am I not then allowed to disagree without being an idiot if I find suitable reasons?

          The less expert a scientist is in a topic, the more likely they are to hold a fringe view. In addition, some hold fringe views due to ideology, financial backing and other non-science influences. Mainstream scientists have little respect for those who take these fringe views, and mostly ignore them other than to point out how little evidence there is to support their view.

          You are quite entitled to hold a fringe view on this issue if you wish, but don’t expect anyone to treat that view with any respect. The only way to get respect for a fringe view would be to amass a greater pile of evidence in support of it, rather like what was done for H. pylori. But you must remember for every H. pylori there are hundreds of fringe scientific hypotheses that have been buried by history. In science, evidence is everything.

          • bstnfeeparty

            “The less expert a scientist is in a topic, the more likely they are to
            hold a fringe view. In addition, some hold fringe views due to ideology,
            financial backing and other non-science influence”

            ^ Are you saying, uniquivocally, that the 11% dissenters all come from an ‘outside’ discipline?

            For your claim to be valid, the other 89% who agree, would have to come from the ‘inside’ discipline -genetic biotechnology, otherwise their agreeing (or disagreeing) is just so much uneducated randomness?

            LOL

            • Chris Preston

              Are you saying, uniquivocally, that the 11% dissenters all come from an ‘outside’ discipline?

              No. I didn’t write anything resembling this.

              You obviously have problems reading.

            • bstnfeeparty

              you dont have to, you imply it – are you being a liar now? Or just confused about what you write?

              Something else that gives me pause is the 11% of those scientists who disagreed

              YOU respond with, in part:

              The less expert a scientist is in a topic, the more likely they are to hold a fringe view. In addition, some hold fringe views due to ideology,financial backing and other non-science influences. Mainstream scientists have little respect for those who take these fringe views, and mostly ignore them other than to point out how little evidence there is to support their view.”

              Maybe that paragraph is totally unrelated.. Seems to a reasonable reader that by including it there, you are implying that these 11% dissenters (try saying that 3 times fast) are outliers to be dismissed because of their lack of specific field expertise and/or financial backing etc etc blah blah.

              But wouldnt that same disclaimer be applicable to the other 89%

            • Chris Preston

              Perhaps you should read what I write a little more carefully. The percentage of scientists who hold fringe views in particular areas do so for a variety of reasons, lack of expertise in the area is simply one of them. However, the most important point is that the views are fringe.

              The views are fringe, not because they are not the majority, but because they don’t have evidence to back them.

              In this particular case the 89% do not hold fringe views, so any assessment of why they hold these views, will simply result in the answer that they are following the evidence, even if they were being paid to do so.

            • Absofuckinglutely true. Fringe views are fringe because they lack evidence. By bstnfeeparty’s standards homeopathy, chiropractic, creationism, and many other fringe science ideas deserve to be worthy of consideration.

              The funny thing is that the scientific consensus on GMOs or climate change is just about the same as evolution. And unless you question evolution (and if he does, conversation over), then he’s being somewhat disingenuous about what he thinks is proper science and not.

            • No, the 11% may hold their opinion for dozens of reasons. I can find top-level researchers in biochemistry who deny evolution. But what you’ll find is that their knowledge of one field does not provide evidence for their belief in another. It is clouded by religion, or bigotry or whatever.

              None of us try to typecast the minority opinion, because their motives and scientific knowledge vary widely. The only thing that matters is evidence. I don’t care what your motive might be as long as you bring evidence. The fringe group NEVER has evidence.

            • You are conflating a democratic vote with scientific consensus. The former is based on emotion, likability, other qualitative factors, and a little evidence. The latter is based purely on evidence.

              There is a continuum from “we don’t know anything” to “scientific fact or theory.” In 1801, no one understood why life was so diverse, and what were these fossil things being dug up in the ground.

              Then Darwin travels the world and has an epiphany.

              Then science brings us genetics, DNA, biochemistry, cell biology, electron microscopes, computers, plus people digging in the ground and finding how fossils are related–and now evolution is a fact.

              There have been (and still are) well educated dissenters to evolution. But they haven’t brought the evidence.

              The so-called minority opinion on GMOs, vaccines, climate change, and whatever else that’s important in science can only sway the consensus if there’s evidence. And they have none. So, it’s not a vote, except if you take the pile of papers that support a particular consensus and weigh it against those that don’t, and by increasing the relative weight of said papers if they’re in higher quality journals–that’s the real vote.

          • Other scientific bodies support this consensus inside and outside of the USA. The US National Academy of Sciences, probably the most prestigious scientific organization on the planet, supports the scientific consensus on GMOs, vaccines, climate change, evolution, and many other topics.

        • I think there’s two problems with your comment.

          1. Do you have any evidence that it doesn’t? And remember it’s the AMERICAN Association for the Advancement of Science. Of course, many other bodies think the same way.

          2. Number 1 is irrelevant, it’s the evidence that matters. Scientific consensus comes from evidence, quality and quantity thereof, not from some conspiracy or some democratic vote.

          To contradict a scientific consensus, rhetoric and debate are irrelevant. Only evidence, and your responsibility, as one trying to quash the consensus, is to bring robust and compelling evidence that they are wrong. Not some strawman argument about reflecting the thoughts of some fringe opinion.

          • mcrockett

            Hmmm. I’m hardly trying to “quash the consensus” and don’t know why you say that I am. Trying to do that by commenting on a blog would be silly indeed. I agree the only convincing way to do that would be with evidence. I was merely commenting your your specific piece; you ended with a bold, definitive statement that I felt was misrepresenting your source.

            Interesting that you think rhetoric and debate are completely irrelevant in scientific consensus. I suppose in the purest sense they are. A body of evidence sits out there and won’t be affected by my words or anyone else’s. But how that evidence gets interpreted, distributed, and represented absolutely is influenced by those things.

      • mcrockett

        Additionally, in order to know whether you could be accurate within 1%, wouldn’t you need to know the population size? I’m not aware exactly how many scientists there are in the world, which is the population this statistic is supposed to represent.

    • mcrockett

      Something else that gives me pause is the 11% of those scientists who disagreed. I know we can’t expect 100% consensus. That’s not what I’m getting at. What doesn’t sit right with me is that this blog post takes the tone of, “If you don’t agree with this, you’re an absolute idiot.” Are those scientists just idiots, then? That doesn’t make sense, considering the author holds AAAS scientists in the highest esteem. If they’re not idiots, then they must have logical reasons for disagreeing. And if they have logical reasons for disagreeing, am I not then allowed to disagree without being an idiot if I find suitable reasons?

      • Science isn’t a democracy. It’s based on evidence, and there are always people who deny evidence. There is some tiny percentage of AAAS members who probably deny evolution. Can’t help them.

    • Frederick

      Or maybe, as good scientists, some who know that’s it’s not their expertise didn’t want to take a position, because they can admit they don’t know. And that was a survey, not a actual study or assessment of official position of scientific institutions. Awg 97-98% consensus is consensus of Climate scientists, but if you take into account other science that see impact of climate change ( oceanography for exemple) that could make ot bigger! I don’t know if any official numbers or the safety and usefulness of biotech, but nearly all agricultural science, sanitary science or environmental institutions have reviewed evidence and they think it’s safe and should be use. Also those institutions also agree with global warming.

  • Dan Feidt~hongpong

    Blah this article totally obfuscates the danger from toxic GMO products like Starlink corn. “Over 89% of scientists who have some expertise in GMOs accept that GMO crops are safe.” Come on, with Starlink corn alone this statement disintegrates!

    • August Pamplona

      It’s unfortunate that handled deregulation of Starlink corn was handled the way it was but there was never any risk from Starlink corn.

      • bstnfeeparty

        Sir, you are either being deceitful or disingenuous.
        But the real issue to me is not the ‘danger’ from the corn, but the fact that

        a. we dont have any controls and
        b. Right after paying billions in settlements and payouts in various lawsuits, they had a similar incident in Saudi Arabia 3 years later.

        I don’t believe in God, but I sure asfuck dont believe in man either!

        • Do you enjoy inventing things?

          nevertheless, provide one plausible way GMO anything can harm you. But when I say plausible I mean a real physiological or biological pathway. I will read War and Peace while waiting.

          • bstnfeeparty

            You are just being stupid and petulant now.
            If you want to know, read what I have said on your site and you will see (hopefully) what I have been saying on that point> I confess I have not much hope, since your ability to read in the first place may not magically appear when prompted to reread

        • hyperzombie

          a. we dont have any controls and

          Controls?? should GMO corn have some sort of knobs and switches on them? Turn it up to 11…

          • bstnfeeparty

            ^ LOL cheap laugh, unworthy of you perhaps, but not unexpected.

      • Let’s, I recall organic lettuce being recalled for salmonella. Our regulatory system is so powerful, we catch problems. But your confirmation bias is so powerful, you find the one issue (if it is really one), ignoring the vast amount of data that shows you’re an ignorant piece of shit.

      • Dan Feidt~hongpong

        Oh sure pollen from transgenic crops that are unsafe for humans could never blow across the road to the human-edible corn. Pour me another cup of glyphosate “Pamplona”.

        • August Pamplona

          What unsafe for humans crop are you referring to? If you are still referring to the Starlink corn incident, the unfortunate choice was to grant deregulated status for Starlink as animal feed only. it should have been deregulated for human consumption or not at all. It was perfectly safe, and never caused a problem. It was recalled because the nature of the supply chain is such that segregation procedures failed and this resulted in an a product unapproved for human use ending up in human food. It was not recalled because it was unsafe.

          See http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/section-3/3-5-starlink/ :

          The problem observed with Cry9C is that it digests slowly in the simulated gastric fluid assay. This doesn’t mean it is an allergen since indigestible proteins are not necessarily allergens. At the time of the Starlink episode, known expert scientific opinion was backing away from an earlier proposition that protein indigestibility was an indicator of potential allergenicity. More recently, some experts say that we should move away from the digestion assay completely because it is not predictive of allergenicity (Goodman and others 2008). The EPA and EPA expert panels placed too much emphasis on the digestion assay. They treated poor digestibility as an indicator of allergencity and did not sufficiently weight other data such as the fact that no Cry protein has ever caused human allergy or that the Bt protein in question, Cry9c, does not possess any structural resemblance to any known allergen. It may be that EPA was too precautionary in their approach and sought 100 percent certainty that Cry9C was not an allergen.

        • Please…show us evidence of any risk. You’re inventing shit.

      • bstnfeeparty

        Correction: The risk from Starlink CORN was theoretical – based on experimental, in-vitro data, it was postulated that this data may mean persistence of some GMO proteins and potential for inflammatory/allergic response. – Could this projected finding have been overblown? perhaps.

        But the fact that Starlink could not properly separate it’s approved for human production line vs its approved production lines indicate a serious internal problem, a problem which was demonstrably NOT fixed later, with ANOTHER release in Saudi Arabia.

        “So is there a risk from GMO?”

        Using Starlink as an example, yes.
        Like it or not, GMO crops are basically the same (potential wise) as drug delivery devices. Who wants to consume, albeit inadvertently, drugs they did not want nor were prescribed to get?

        • August Pamplona

          If you are going to claim that GMO crops are “drug delivery devices” then so is every other plant that we consume. Your same question applies.

          • bstnfeeparty

            “If you are going to claim that GMO crops are “drug delivery devices”
            then so is every other plant that we consume. Your same question
            applies.”

            ^ what are you talking about, AP?

            Is every other plant we consume subject to the same manipulation as GMO assembly line crops or are they basically static?

            • August Pamplona

              Yes, we manipulate other plants and usually more drastically with conventional techniques than we do with genetic engineering techniques. No, they are not basically static. I even gave you examples of conventional breeding causing undesired side effects up to and including death (although the deaths were in cattle) but perhaps you missed them because TL;DR?

            • bstnfeeparty

              not true.

              I will continue to hold my disbelief until I see an apple spontaneously glowing ’cause it picked up a jellyfish gene.

              Go log out and activate you sock puppets to support your arguments

            • August Pamplona

              I stand corrected. You’ve said it’s not true so it must not be true.

              Up until 1992 (when a transgenic virus resistant tobacco plant was first introduced in China), all of our crops were in their primordial, immaculate, God created state (you know, like how Cavendish bananas have been created in their exact current form by God to fit the human hand). Rumors of changes produced by breeding are disinfo spread by the reptiloids. The reporting of the Texas cattle deaths from a few years ago was a masonic conspiracy. The Lenape potato and the Magnum Bonum potatoes aren’t really toxic. There really wasn’t an episode of cucurbitacin poisoning by summer squash in Australia. And Starlink corn is actually part of a population control plot by Bill Gates.

              Also, you’ve uncovered my dastardly deeds. All the other people posting here are actually me (in fact, I’ve even written some of your alleged posts).

              I wasn’t going to come clean but you’ve just upset me so much by not calling me a shill yet that I just had to.

            • bstnfeeparty

              ^ blah blah blah straw man blah blah ad hominem blah blah ad nauseum blah blah

            • August Pamplona

              It doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to randomly pick fallacies and trot them out. They actually mean something.

              For instance, an adhominem means I impute your character in some way for the purpose of somehow discrediting your ideas by association. For instance, I might say bstnfeeparty is such a jerk that no one should believe anything they say. This is irrelevant because even jerks can be right (thus it’s a fallacy). I have never done anything like that (for all I know, you might be one of the nicest people I have ever known if I ever actually met you).

              Likewise, a strawman fallacy means that one is attacking a position not held by another person (including, perhaps, weak caricatures, of the other person’s position). It isn’t a strawman when the other person actually holds that position. It’s not a strawman when you actually believe that there’s some fundamental quality of normal breeding that makes it intrinsically safe. It’s not a strawman when you really do dismiss real life examples as “not true” simply because it sounds wrong to you. It’s not a strawman when you really did come up with that nonsense about how GMOs are “drug delivery devices”. It’s not a strawman when you are really are claiming that other posters here are my sockpuppets. It isn’t a strawman that you seem to have an essentialist, folk biology understanding about how genetics works. I could go on…. This is all stuff you wrote and apparently take seriously. I did not come up with it.

              So if, according to you, I have been addressing weak distorted versions of your position, what is your strong position? Is it that companies sometimes do bad things? Because I think I have conceded that.

              That still doesn’t address why companies possibly doing bad things is only a concern for seed companies if they use genetic engineering.

              In fact, one problem with your thinking is that it is method focused rather than end product focused. The end product is what matters. A virus resistant papaya does cannot present the same risks and benefits as herbicide tolerant canola, for instance. If something is be a problem, it will be a problem whether it has been produced via genetic engineering or via conventional breeding alone.

            • bstnfeeparty

              brevity: I have already articulated my position.
              It is upheld by observation and is scientifically sound and independently verifiable.

              1. ” It’s not a strawman when you really did come up with that nonsense about how GMOs are “drug delivery devices””

              But THAT is a fact, one you have already conceded in other posts.
              Not ALL GMO products clearly,( In the same way that pills and capsules can contain placebos, vitamins as well as Xanax) – But the potential for a genetic architect to insert an arbitrary gene into a product is a LOT greater than that of a pollen swapping/xylem grafting worker in a bio farm.

              You seem willing to give a blanket acceptance to GMO food, blindly accepting ALL potential changes as for the good. The problem is however, that our GMO abilities have outpaced our ethical or even our production controls capabilities.

              Have YOU ever worked in a development environment, i.e. Software, where the code has to be tested, validated and certified before it is RTP and burnt to a DVD or posted online for distribution?

              Imagine a scenario where somebody can make a change – and it shows up in your computer days later?

              GMO products are food additives – why not have food labeling?

            • August Pamplona

              1. ” It’s not a strawman when you really did come up with that nonsense about how GMOs are “drug delivery devices””

              But THAT is a fact, one you have already conceded in other posts.

              I have conceded no such thing. Of course, if you actually intended to design a GE plant to be used as a “drug delivery device”, you might be able to do this under some circumstances. This is not equivalent to treating all GE crops as if they were potential “drug delivery devices”. Crops designed as drug delivery devices (of which there are none) are drug delivery devices. Other crops are not.

              Not ALL GMO products clearly,

              Definitely not all because there isn’t even one (not as a product in current commercial production, anyway).

              ( In the same way that pills and capsules can contain placebos, vitamins as well as Xanax) – But the potential for a genetic architect to insert an arbitrary gene into a product is a LOT greater than that of a pollen swapping/xylem grafting worker in a bio farm.

              Oh so your objection is that someone, in the future, might do something even though it hasn’t happened yet and even though it’s already against the rules? So it’s like some sort of theoretical risk? So screwdrivers are a danger because someday someone may use one to create a device that could be used to create a black hole which may consume the earth?

              Like I wrote earlier, if someone produces something harmful through genetically engineering, they are going to be doing it on purpose and they are going to be intentionally avoiding the testing that all genetically engineered plants are subjected to before approval (at least under the current regulatory environment). Big corporations are not what you should be worried about. If you are worried about the introduction of intentionally harmful products, you should be worried about bioterrorist groups (though I think bioterrorism may be a lot more difficult to use effectively than you think –as is usually the case, we are probably more at risk from the measures governments will take in overreactions to address said risks “for our own good”) and this is not addressed by onerous regulation of biotechnology. Dr. Evil is not going to be stopped by technology bans or restrictions (much less by labeling initiatives). Addressing the Dr. evil risk cannot involve making more and more rules because Dr. Evil will not be bound by them.

              Paraphrasing the gun nuts, if you outlaw genetic engineering, only outlaws will genetically engineer!

              In the meantime, if you are going to have unforeseen ill effects, these will manifest themselves from conventional breeding (and I have given you examples). Of course, the risks are not great because when we see things that we don’t like we stop using those plants as breeding stock (however, that applies to GE plants even more because, if anything, they have much, much more stringent oversight).

              Then, of course, there’s biopharming but this is generally about production of a pharmaceutical product and not about using a raw plant product as a “drug delivery device”, as you like to put it. Additionally, there are no commercialized biopharmed products on the market yet (I wonder if ZMapp might not be the product closest to being released?).

              Of course, we have dozens of pharmaceutical products on the market right now that are produced by genetically engineered organisms (do you know anyone who is diabetic and depends on insulin injections?) but none are yet produced in a plant. I hope you don’t have problems with such drugs as a matter of general principle? Of course, any such product will have individual problems because all drugs can have bad effects (insulin in excess of physiological requirement can easily kill you, for instance).

              You seem willing to give a blanket acceptance to GMO food, blindly accepting ALL potential changes as for the good. The problem is however, that our GMO abilities have outpaced our ethical or even our production controls capabilities.

              I do no such thing. On the other hand, you seem to give blanket, blind acceptance to conventional selection practices, to mutation breeding, to distant hybrids, to induced polyploidy, to embryo rescue, etc..

              Have YOU ever worked in a development environment, i.e. Software, where the code has to be tested, validated and certified before it is RTP and burnt to a DVD or posted online for distribution?

              Imagine a scenario where somebody can make a change – and it shows up in your computer days later?

              Genetically engineered plants actually go through a testing phase so that scenario cannot happen with them under the current regulatory environment. However, all the breeding techniques that are not based on genetic engineering most often avoid all such testing and fit your scenario so if it really worries you that’s where you should be focusing. In fact, even if you wanted to test conventionally bred plants you would only be able to do generic tests on them because we generally do not know, in detail, what has been changed when we are using conventional breeding techniques. In your software analogy, there would be no module testing even possible (even in principle) for most conventionally bred plants.

              GMO products are food additives – why not have food labeling?

              There are some “GMO products” that are food additives but I am unaware of any of them that are currently being produced by GE crops.

              When MSG was introduced it was not a GE product but now all production of MSG is GE (it’s the same substance, however, so don’t get all freaked out about it). Chymosin used as rennet for cheese making is almost always a GE product nowadays so I suppose that’s kind of an additive (even though the antis curiously don’t seem to care about cheese making). Apparently, we are starting to slowly introduce various flavoring compounds that are being produced by GE organisms. Apparently, there are some transgenic yeasts being used in wine making but I don’t know how widespread their use is. There are probably a few more.

              In any case, I will add that even if it becomes the case that we start using GE crops to produce additives (it might be cheaper and more convenient to grow a crop than to run a fermentor, for instance), I would have no problem with it. From the
              standpoint of the final product, we should be regulating products rather
              than the processes used to produce those products
              . If the product is safe
              and if you can guarantee food grade level purity there’s no reason I
              should care if you produced it using screws with right handed threads or
              screws with left handed threads. If I want vanillin and I get vanillin why should I care if it came from a chemist’s lab or from a field of genetically reprogrammed maize*?

              * No, I know of no such project. It’s just an example.

    • Blah. Unscientific babbling from ignorance is still babbling. Until you have serious scientific evidence that is equal to the quantity and quality that supports refutes the scientific consensus, you are nothing but a charlatan. Good luck with that.

      • Dan Feidt~hongpong

        Are you suggesting that A) toxicity of Starlink corn is disputed? B) the Starlink corn never contaminated the food supply? C) Starlink corn is not GMO? You can put up all the ad hominem labels you like, but you should concede that the *safety of GMO products at a minimum is predicated on their design* and hence they are not automatically all safe, which is what your article above asserts as a blanket statement. Any product has to be designed to be safe, and your article implies that GMOs cannot be designed in an unsafe way. That just isn’t tenable, whether or not you think I’m a charlatan. Your reliance on over generalization about GMOs zapped your credibility.

        This is why so many people are wary of GMO technology, as sleazy companies will always consider reducing the safety of their products to improve the marketability, as we see with RoundupReady products and glyphosate now more widely recognized as a carcinogen. If you want to duck this kind of problem, you’re abandoning skepticism and going with faith in big companies. Good luck with that.

        • bstnfeeparty

          LOL… this is the part that always FLOORS ME.

          People wise up, abandon “Organized Religion” ….. then immediately jump into a new faith, the church of “GMO Companies Love Us And Latter Day Saints”

          EVERY scientist that I have seen in a corporate environment has had his well meaning ass chewed out and OWNED by the peanut pushers in corporate. They are forced to fudge or understate their findings, restate their opinions or shutthefuck up.

          Look no further than the Challenger disaster at how plaintive voices in the wilderness FROM real ROCKET SCIENTISTS wailing about the safety risks of the O-rings were shouted down, silenced and ostracized…until the damn thing blew up killing all onboard.

          GMO foods (right now, currently) ARE SAFE.

          GMO companies, ARE NOT..

          It is possible (and by possible, I mean inevitable) that a GMO seed will hit the market that poisons the soil so that only it can grow, locking you in to that product and that product alone. Why?

          Because they can, the same way that the minute a cellphone can take x-ray pictures, we’ll be flooded with pics of chicks suddenly stripped naked by technology. Its the Frog and the Scorpion story all over again and I dont know why the hell GMO Evangelists cant see that!

          • I don’t have faith in anything. I have scientific consensus. And evidence. And the lack of logical fallacies. Your strawman argument about Starlink, which never showed ONE tiny bit of harm to humans. Yes, Aventis should and did get embarrassed, but who gives cares? You’re a maroon.

            • bstnfeeparty

              maroon? LOL
              I did not first raise Starlink as an example although it is particularly apt.

              A product unapproved for use on humans nonetheless entered the human food supply due the poor internal controls of Starlink.

              The assertion that it is ‘harmless’ is not even the point (perhaps moron is the word you need?)

              People have a RIGHT to not eat what they dont want to eat, and not be fed items that have not been approved by them for consumption.
              The undisputed fact that despite this incident and the many millions that Starlink was forced to pay as a result, Starlink still had another unauthorized release of unapproved material into the human food supply.
              Does that not give you pause?

              I urgently wait your well nuanced and articulate reply!

              Translation: An almost unintelligible reply peppered with f-bombs, sh*t words and, as above, malapropisms.

              3..2..1…GO!

          • hyperzombie

            The totally funny thing about this post,t is that it is You that has embraced a New Religion. Rock on with the Everything is a Conspiracy religion.

            • bstnfeeparty

              “Conspiracy?”

              Ascribe not to conspiracy what you can to incompetence.

              Its basic incompetence and greed. Same thing that plagues EVERY industry, so to say GMO or ‘X” is ‘safe’ makes you an idiot, sadly.

    • Chris Preston

      In fact with Starlink corn there was no evidence that it was unsafe. The assessment process identified that the Bt protein used persisted slightly longer in tests of simulated digestion than other Bt proteins. As a precautionary action, it was not allowed by the regulators in human consumption due to concern that this extra longevity might result in allergenicity. We now know that would not have happened.

      The problem with the release of Starlink is that it was not possible to segregate it tightly enough for no leakage into human corn consumption, because the appropriate practices were not put in place. Aventis were told this at the time, but went ahead anyway.

      The CDC conducted an investigation of those who claimed to have been affected by eating Starlink corn and was unable to find anyone who was harmed from eating the corn. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehhe/Cry9Creport/

  • I’m enrolled in the MOOC “Making Sense of Climate Science Denial” and early in the course they have a lecture on knowledge based consensus. This phrase seems useful for making the distinction from the business world consensus. There are three aspects necessary for an evidence-based consensus:

    Consilience of Evidence – Many different fields of science all contribute to the understanding of anthropogenic climate change, ranging across biology, geology, chemistry, etc. By contrast, the support for homeopathic medicine is restricted to just homeopathic advocates. They don’t published their findings in any outside journals because they’re lacking a plausible mechanism to explain inverse dose-response and they can’t show favorable results in double-blind randomized control trials (indicating that placebo response is a more likely explanation for any benefits).

    Social calibration – The experts involved in the consensus agree on standards for evidence. The rejection by homeopaths of double-blind RCTs as evidence is a barrier to having a consensus that includes those researchers. but outside their circle the broader evidence-based consensus is that homeopathic remedies have no active ingredients and no plausible mechanism of action.

    Social Diversity – Having researchers from many cultural and economic backgrounds provides diversity that helps eliminate social biases as a cause of error. For example, in the published literature on the safety of agricultural biotechnology we find agreement from researchers in countries around the world of various classes and ethnic backgrounds. If the evidence of safety only came from middle-class white scientists based in St. Louis (home of Monsanto), we might rightfully suspect it more.

    The lecture on these aspects from the MOOC can be viewed here:

    • This sounds like good stuff. I might have to add it to my article on what constitutes a scientific consensus. Thanks.

      • bstnfeeparty

        you may want to re-examine the whole ‘Social diversity’ claims.

        For one, It is totally assumptive with just ‘say so’ asserting that introducing all these disparate groups makes for a better result – why would it necessarily?

        Wouldnt an independent observer posit that the OPPOSITE would happen?
        That the social conflict of differing cultures ESPECIALLY as they work together generate in the initial phases at least, all kinds of interface issues?

  • flydlbee

    The 97% figure of the Cook report was comprehensively trashed by Professor Legates of the University of Delaware. He found that only 41 of the 11,984 abstracts in the Cook Report endorsed the position that Global warming since 1950 has been anthropogenic.

    • iguanapoop
      • flydlbee

        They ALL have conflicts of interest. “Global Warming” is a scam.

        • bstnfeeparty

          ^ “Global Warming” IS a scam, but it is YOUR scam.

          You posit that some areas are experiencing record cold as evidence that warming (overall) is not occurring.

          I’m not a fan of the term “global warming” and more in favor of the term, ‘catastrophic man made climate damage” (which is certainly not soundbitish enough nor will it fit well on a bumper sticker)

          • flydlbee

            “Global warming” simply isn’t happening. The frausters are getting more and more desperate.

            • Please bring scientific evidence in the form, quality and quantity of evidence that supports anthropogenic global warming. I’ll wait until…well…forever, since you will not be able to do so without confirmation bias and some other biases.

              By the way, you proclaim this as if you actually are educated in the field. But my guess is that you sit on your fat lazy ass, clicking on Google, and you wouldn’t know real scientific research if it kissed you on your ass.

              What are your credentials? Do you have the credentials, scientific knowledge and vast publications in the field like the members of the NAS and AAAS? Thought not. STFU.

            • flydlbee

              You have reverted to personal insult because you lack a rational argument. Typical of the lefty AGW fascists you simply want to silence anyone who sees through your hoax.

              It isn’t getting warmer.

            • bstnfeeparty

              Not to speak for anyone (although I suppose I am about to), but I suspect he reverted to personal insult not through lack of a rational argument but because a rational argument is wasted on the irrational.

              Average world wide temperature has indeed been getting warmer, but WEATHER in particular and climate in general is controlled by large currents that flow around the earth, distributing and circulating heat (and cold) around the globe, in conjunction with minerals and nutrients. When these currents are disturbed, cooling rains that used to fall along the coastal areas for decades fall still – only this time, uselessly, 100 miles offshore. Warm water currents that hug the coast on their way north bringing warmth to the northern areas may cycle offshore instead, causing much much colder winters – an argument busting circumstance to you, but still consistent with global warming to everyone else who understands that what we live in is not a terrarium, but more akin to a Swiss Watch, with fine tolerances that are affected

              The clock is ticking.

            • flydlbee

              You are right about the “belief” as opposed to reason, but I am a very cynical atheist, and I find it difficult to believe anything. I find people who “believe” do it largely by ignoring the facts which do not support their hypothesis. However, it isn’t getting any warmer:- http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/satellite-data-no-global-warming-past-18-years

              This is satellite data, and it hasn’t been filtered (fiddled) through discredited organisations. Hard fact. The climate models are simply not forecasting the future; their predictions are so far out as to be meaningless, and even dangerously misleading. This weight of evidence should lead to the scrapping of the Global Warming Hypothesis (it is not a theory), but there are just too many people with an intellectual commitment (faith) to the cause. That’s why they get so angry when questioned closely, and start to rave about imprisoning climate “deniers”. AGW, or as it calls itself “climate change” when it knows the grown-ups are listening, has become a religion. Watch out for the “Climate Change” police arriving on your doorstep to take you away to the Gore Inquisition any moment now.

            • bstnfeeparty

              Again, it IS getting warmer ( globally, on average) and again, you WILL see localized variations into extremes of cold/heat, flood/aridity as weather patterns shift 100’s of miles out of their useful areas. You know the math is valid, why this side talk about “warmer?”

              YOU KNOW that it is more than the thermometer in your backyard. The only ‘thought police’ on this issue are the Republicans in Florida who have had people under their administrations fired for even hinting at climate change in their official documentation or memos ( much like GM has a list of banned words that engineers should not use when discussing car problems – but worse)

              Has ‘Climate Change’ become a ‘religion?’ – hardly. Every principle of climate change can not only be directly reviewed and the assumptions duplicated (allowing for local differences) by viewing the same events and seeing the effects duplicate themselves on a local level.

              When you can interrogate the Pope on the same level then you can call it a religion but not before! 🙂
              In rebuttal to the helpful link you have posted above, I suggest you look at the following.

              Notice that, unlike your offering, each counterpoint is linked to supporting evidence.

              http://www.skepticalscience.com/skeptic_John_Christy.htm

            • flydlbee

              Thank you for your courteous reply – so much nicer that being told to STFU because I had disagreed with the party line. Here are a few bits of supporting evidence for you:-

              http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/23/norwegian-observations-confirms-the-gulf-stream-has-been-stable-over-the-past-20-years/

              http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/17/new-paper-how-much-of-the-global-temperature-change-is-natural/

              http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/04/2013-was-not-a-good-year-for-catastrophic-anthropogenic-global-climate-warming-change-disruption-wierding-ocean-acidification-extreme-weather-etc/

              http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/16/nature-proves-al-gore-wrong-again/

              There are lots nd lots more from that dreadful heretic Peter Watts. Once again, True Believers won’t read them since they know in their hearts he are wrong, but as a hardened old atheist I find such blind faith rings no bells at all with me.

            • bstnfeeparty

              Well, I took the time to read them all, and I have to admit that I’m not fully qualified to digest them all – I must say that some look a bit incomplete but it would take me quite a bit of time to dissect each one and validate it ( or invalidate it)

              Assuming for example, that the 1st one is correct (taken at face value) that the gulf stream temperature readings (taken in Norway and not in say…THE GULF) have not measurably risen over 20 years, is it 20 years we should be examining or 200 years, a time span that more accurately reflects mans industrial activity?

              Is it possible that these hourly measurements within the last 20 years are as reflective of trends as much as taken a patients pulse every 2 seconds for 6 ,minutes after the patient has been shot in the belly?

              Since you and I know that a person’s pulse is in beats per minute, not per second, so ‘taking a pulse reading’ every 2 seconds is, in effect, taking NOTHING AT ALL, we can invalidate instantly anyone coming to us with such a premise.

              Furthermore, we also know, that although death without medical intervention, is almost certain when you have been gutshot (anecdotal evidence from tons of Saturday morning westerns), we also know that death comes slowly, and the fatally wounded man will be quite ‘normal’ for a time, even as his death approaches 🙂

              I dont even know the depth at which these temperature readings were taken ( I do know that the Gulf stream is not a surface current for the entirety of its loop for example) what exactly were they measuring?

              So my verdict at this time is: Untrusted, pending corroboration and evaluation of research method.

              Fair enough?
              PS: I note that climate change is woefully off topic to the convo at hand, consequently, any response you make will have to be the final one, since I will not hijack (or participate thereby) this thread further 🙂

            • flydlbee

              Thank you. Evidently you prefer to take the long term view when the eidence is against you, but the short-term view when it supports your case. This selective credulity is a feature of religion rather than reason. This explains why devotees of the climate-warming cult react with such venom when their beliefs are questioned, and also why we are requed to pay a muslim-style jizya to support “renewable energy”.

              Here is an even better, more succint article:- http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/12/22-very-inconvenient-climate-truths/

              I am sorry if I challenge your deeply held religious twaddle – sorry, beliefs.

            • bstnfeeparty

              I suggest you not be too surprised in the future when people respond to your ‘well articulated scientific rebuttals’ (i.e. denial trolling) with coarse insults.
              You have received more than I promised, go now with my blessings

            • Yup because you two jackasses have your Ph.D.’s in climatology and have published extensively in the field. Give me a fucking break. You make me laugh.

            • flydlbee

              Are you even able to write an English sentence without obscenity and personal insult?

            • bstnfeeparty

              To be honest, I am more than a little disappointed by this self appointed ‘Skeptical Raptor’, which does at first glance, bring to mind a sharp eyed bird of prey with razor sharp talons ready to pounce on 1/2 truths and …. alas, I find instead a juvenile blog owner with a potty mouth and frankly, intellectually lazy responses.

              I notice with some sadness that despite his very valid claims for participation in any debate, namely “you two jackasses have your Ph.D.’s in climatology and have published extensively in the field” I notice HE doent have any Ph.D’s in “Climatology” to speak off, nor any published articles to speak of (your own web page don’t count) making his own spoutings moot?

              I’m sure Skeptical Raptor will have something incredibly witty, sharp,biting to say in response
              (and by that I mean, some juvenile insults, obscenities like a 12yr old, then deleting the posts)

              Meh. I wont be here to see it though, as I am out.

              See you on SCIAM.com or other real websites 😛

            • flydlbee

              Thank you. I have added SCIAM to my favourites. Such a pity that so much careful web-page design, as shown here, is so puerile in its execution.

            • Daniel Pyron

              A “cynical atheist” using a religious reich fake news site as a source? Liar.
              AGW was a hypothesis 40 years or more ago – it has been a theory for a very long time.

            • flydlbee

              “Religious Reich” What are you talking about? Do you simply mean “heretical”?

              A hypothesis becomes a theory when it is generally accepted(but not proven) – Aristotlean nonsense was accepted for centuries until Galilieo came along. The problem with AGW is that it isn’t getting any warmer; (the “climate models” have failed comepletely to explain the Pause) that even its snake-oil salesmen promoters have dropped the term in favour of “Climate Change”. Only the true believers still talk about AGW, and that is only until they are laughed at.

            • ursa major

              Are you just playing stupid or is it for real? On the very off change you are really really uninformed “religious reich” is a play off of “religious right”.
              There has been no pause in warming. And the Galileo gambit is a well known tactic of science deniers and the dishonest.

            • flydlbee

              You have nothing to offer except a stream of personal insult. Aroint thee!

  • This is one of the best pieces gathering the consensus of GMOs, thanks.
    You may be interested to know that psychologically there’s a solid theory explaining why there’s ‘a huge overlap between climate change supporters and GMO deniers’ (Did you coin the term GMO deniers? It’s great and I will use it!) Look up Moral Foundations theory of check out my blog piece about it (albeit it looking at it in a different context).

  • bstnfeeparty

    I dont distrust “GMO” food – up to a point.

    I distrust GMO companies.

    The drug companies ( god bless ’em) with our best interests at heart, and moderate, well meaning oversight via the FDA , surprisingly release truly horrible drugs when taken as directed for the illness they were designed for ( ignoring the ‘off label’ issues when drugs are pushed to be applied to illness for which they did not get FDA approval ( See: Wellbutrin [sic] )

    Furthermore, there is GMO which basically mimics or speeds up biological processes or bypasses years of natural and human selection and cross breeding – vs Chimera concoctions where a beetle’s toxic gene is added to an apple , or , for that same apple, genes are added so that it no longer turns brown, even as it rots.

    We’ve found out – belatedly, that many of the delightful plastics we have used to keep our food safe from bugs, insects and dust, have happily leaked toxic chemicals ( BPA’s) into the food they were protecting – we ALL thought plastics were safe, and we were wrong.
    Now, we are to have ‘food’ that generates it’s own plastic wrap? It’s own weed killer and its own insecticide?

    No thanks

    • August Pamplona

      bstnfeeparty writes:

      Furthermore, there is GMO which basically mimics or speeds up biological processes or bypasses years of natural and human selection and cross breeding

      This doesn’t even make sense.

      The normal process includes simply noticing a useful trait (such as seeing a pink sport –or somatic mutant– in your grapefruit tree or noticing wild sunflowers that do not die after herbicide application) and using that as your starting point.

      So called, GMO includes careful consideration and study leading to the insertion of a desired trait into a plant by means of molecular biology techniques and using that as your starting point.

      Both are followed by years of natural and human selection and cross-breeding.

      Without even attempting to address whether it’s a bad thing, how is the latter bypassing years of natural and human selection and cross breeding any more than the former?

      As a related aside, I think it is instructive to compare different approaches to crop improvement:
      http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2012/06/more-frankenfood-paradox.html

      bstnfeeparty writes:

      – vs Chimera concoctions where a beetle’s toxic gene is added to an apple ,

      Inserting a single gene in an organism does not make it a chimera. Disregarding the fact that “chimera” has a very specific meaning in developmental biology, inserting a single gene in an organism does not make it chimeric even in a loose, metaphorical sense. It only appears to be so if one’s understanding is burdened by an essentialist view of biology that posits some sort of intangible essence of an organism permeating through all of its parts and permanently bound to them, including its DNA. In other words, to see this as a valid metaphor requires the same sort of folk biology understanding that might lead a person to believe that a tomato with a fish gene (there are no such tomatoes commercialized anywhere, by the way) would be likely to taste fishy.

      bstnfeeparty writes:

      or , for that same apple, genes are added so that it no longer turns brown, even as it rots.

      I can only assume that this is meant to be a reference to a real world example in the form of Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ Arctic Apples. This is an inaccurate description of what was entailed in the production of these varieties and of what the results of the process were.

      The apples have genetic constructs inserted into their genome that inhibit the synthesis of enzymes responsible for browning (called polyphenol oxidases) in apples (and in other fruits and vegetables). This is done through a process called RNA interference. These enzymes do nothing to prevent apples from browning as a result of rotting. Rotting and enzymatic browning are different processes and the modifications created by Okanagan Specialty Fruits affect only the latter.

      • bstnfeeparty

        ? All you have done is engage in a very verbose self gratifying bout of word parsing which does not respond to any point that I have made, except for my reference to apples ( to which you replied with your ‘oranges rebuttal’ – actually tomato)

        You fail to realize, acknowledge or even address my main concern. And that I have no fear of GMO itself, but of corporations who mean us no good.

        You can climb the debating ladder on your self created rungs of “what is REALLY a Chimera” but YOU know what I mean, and going on about the Oxford definition (and deviations therefrom) is just you being disingenuous.

        It seems that people have a NEED to be religious, and most ( you especially) having eschewed God or Allah turn instead to something ELSE to be their religion, that ‘thing’ which they BELIEVE and TRUST in (Faith) and bypass their skepticism.

        The general safety ( albeit gross inefficiency) of ‘natural’ foods and organism is well proven – not by a few double blind trials, but by 100’s of years of scientific and anecdotal observation, our mega corporations ( and human nature in general) proves only one thing, the greater the power, the greater the facility for outright abuse and damage.

        Just the other day, live samples of Anthrax were inadvertently mailed because someone accidentally noted the samples as ‘dead’ and they were shipped under a lower safety protocol. Common sense, and failing that, hindsight has us applying ‘live virus’ protocols to ALL samples, thus ensuring transmission safety despite human labeling error.

        Your foolhardy faith, like that of any other religious GMO Jhihadist is that you conveniently ignore man’s natural incompetence, greed and malfeasance and assume that it will not contaminate our scientific equations, samples and controls.

        • August Pamplona

          Seed companies are not drug companies so, at best, the analogy is strained. In any case, you did not write that you distrust seed companies, you wrote that you distrust GMO companies. An inference could be made from you singling out GMO companies in that way, that you find seed companies which do not deal in GE organisms trustworthy. If this is not so, then why single them out?

          Your secondary point, which I was actually attempting to address, seemed to be regarding how somehow the nature of conventional breeding makes it safer than inserting small numbers of genes through molecular biology techniques. Perhaps this would be why you chose to single out GMO companies in your previous statement (maybe you distrust all seed companies but you think only those employing genetic engineering are capable of causing harm?). However, as I tried to point out, your statement regarding how GE bypasses years of natural and human selection in a unique manner is flawed. Mutations that one may choose as the start of an entirely conventional breeding program do not have to take many generations to manifest. They just happen (when they don’t suddenly emerge you are probably dealing with polygenic, quantitative traits, anyway –and those would tend to be traits that would not be likely to be addressable with genetic engineering).

          Yes, people screw up. Kevin Folta’s post that I linked to is partly a response to an incident of cattle being poisoned to death by a forage grass. That’s probably an example of something that would have been difficult to predict since it involved unusual growing conditions that would have been difficult to test for. However, one of the parental types, or a close relative, had some issues with the production of cyanogenic glycosides (I am going from memory here) so maybe it could still be considered a screw-up of sorts. The brief commercial release and subsequent recall of the Lenape potato was premised on something that should have been easily foreseeable, toxic levels of solanine, so that probably should be considered a screw-up. Psoralen content in celery high enough to cause dermatitis in grocery and farm workers as a result of breeding for higher pest resistance could be considered a screw up.

          All of the above are documented, unforeseen harms and all have involved nothing other than conventional breeding. In contrast, there are no documented cases of a commercially released GE crop causing similar harm. You are guilty of a naturalistic fallacy and of misapplying the precautionary principle when you base your comments on a claim that the safety of “natural” foods is well proven. Even if this were so (it’s mostly so but not completely so –there are “natural” foods that are not particularly safe), it is still not addressing new foods since the reason why old varieties tend to be safe to consume is not because unsafe varieties never emerged in the past but rather because unsafe varieties of food were abandoned and thus are no longer with us. It is also not properly addressing why using genetic engineering to introduce traits should be less safe than using other processes. Certainly, as the Lenape potato shows, you can easily introduce harmful traits with conventional breeding.

          Regarding your comments about chimeras, I explicitly renounced addressing definitional issues when I wrote about disregarding ‘the fact that “chimera” has a very specific meaning in developmental biology’. I was more interested in addressing conceptual issues. You write that I know exactly what you meant but I did not (I still don’t). I was addressing a particular and very popular conceptual understanding of what it means to insert a transgenic gene. I cannot know if this is also your understanding (though it kind of seemed that way).

          • bstnfeeparty

            tl;dr

            “Seed companies are not drug companies so, at best, the analogy is strained”
            Really? THEY SHARE THE SAME DNA.

            Profit, profit profit, growth growth growth (consequences? ethics?)One of my concerns with GMO companies is nGMO foods are safe for human consumption.
            Of course, this is a ridiculous concern since these genes cannot
            possibly have any effect on humans, since they cannot be incorporated
            into the human genome, nor can they have any effect on humans. There is
            no biological plausibility that GMOs have an effect on any biological
            organism.

          • bstnfeeparty

            tl;dr

            “Seed companies are not drug companies so, at best, the analogy is strained”
            Really? THEY SHARE THE SAME DNA.

            Profit, profit profit, growth growth growth (consequences? ethics?)
            One of my concerns with GMO companies is GMO foods are safe for human consumption.

            Of course, this is a ridiculous concern since these genes cannot possibly have any effect on humans, since they cannot be incorporated into the human genome,
            nor can they have any effect on humans.”

            And .. There is no biological plausibility that GMOs have an effect on any biological organism.

            ^ Ok, can we callbullshit on the above?

            I doubt anyone is truly in fear of a spider web gene artfully inserted into a snap peas genone
            to enable the pea pods to more easily handle the roughness of picking suddenly
            causing little Johnny to shoot webbing from his hands and a desire to fight crime,
            but more likely, toxin genes migrating from the roots to the fruit

            Downstream testing of product is hardly done now, and even if regulated now, we have seen CONSISTENTLY, the urge to deregulate, with the FAA in particular losing inspectors and airlines being largely self reporting and self reporting or as we Foxes like to say “Henhouse Maintenance!”

            SUMMARY:
            GMO – much creater capacity for harm with much shorter ‘to market’ cycles than convential means.
            A financial and corporate need to eliminate competitiors and thus form a monoculture which robs diversity.
            No current procedures or policies for DNA audit and/or certification of GMO designs

            EXTRA SHORT SUMMARY.
            Man has not proven to be trustworthy with the great power that GMO provides.

            • August Pamplona

              bstnfeeparty wrote:
              «tl;dr

              “Seed companies are not drug companies so, at best, the analogy is strained”
              Really? THEY SHARE THE SAME DNA.

              Of course, this is a ridiculous concern since…»

              It’s nice that you know my arguments before I make them because it saves me so much work.

              Wait, no….

              Actually….

              Yes, there’s biological plausibility for a, so called, GMO having an effect on a biological organism.

              This is because what we eat will have an effect on us. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t even have a real reason to eat as we eat because we need some of the biological effects and because we like some of the biological effects. But, of course, you are referring to harmful effects which changes nothing. Of course you can have harmful effects from eating something.

              Try eating hemlock (Conium maculatum) and you will probably die. You could certainly have something genetically engineered produce bad effects as well.

              Here is the difference.

              If you knew what you were doing, you could, on purpose, presumably create a tomato that produces the toxin from hemlock (coniine) or some other harmful toxin in a single generation. Do realize that there’s a lot of hand waving here in that “if you knew what you were doing” and that this may entail anything from some specialized knowledge you know off the top of your head to countless millions of dollars and a lifetime spent on research (because the particular pathways involved and other required technical details may not be well elucidated) depending on what exactly it is that you need to do. Of course, as you point out, money is in the DNA of seed companies and
              they do not make money by making plants that kill consumers so it is very unlikely that even everyone’s favorite evil company, Monsanto, would ever create a coniine producing tomato.

              Likewise, you might be able to do the same through conventional breeding. However, in some instances, it may be nearly impossible to do this on purpose. It is very likely almost impossible to use conventional breeding to produce a tomato to express the hemlock toxin (don’t get me wrong, it is virtually certain that you could breed a poisonous tomato, producing tomatine, for instance, just not an coniine producing tomato).

              However, the possibility of accidentally producing a tomato that produced coniine through genetic engineering is essentially zero. It might be possible, under highly unusual circumstances, to produce a high tomatine (naturally occurring toxin of tomatoes) tomato but this would be caught in the review process that transgenic organisms (and not conventionally bred organisms) have to go through before achieving a deregulated status.

              On the other hand, the possibility of accidentally producing a plant through conventional breeding that unexpectedly produced a toxin is very real and I already gave you several examples where this has happened. It is probably plausible (though I suspect very, very unlikely) that some domesticated relative of hemlock (celery, carrots, parseley, parsnips, cilantro, etc.) may somehow acquire the ability to make coniine. There exists no regulatory oversight to look for this sort of thing when conventional breeding is used.

              In any case, the changes implicit in conventional techniques are gross because they involve very coarse tools. The likelihood of unforeseen effects will always be greater. In fact, you can expose your plants to radiation and chemical mutagens for breeding purposes and there are no rules concerning that. Many varieties of plants used by organic gardeners have been mutagenized in this way and it’s fine by the organic standards. As it turns out, the Gilligan’s Island episode. Pass the Vegetables, Please depicts reality (not the parts where they get superpowers but the part about exposing seeds to radiation as part of plant breeding programs).

            • August Pamplona

              bstnfeeparty wrote:
              «I doubt anyone is truly in fear of a spider web gene artfully inserted into a snap peas genone to enable the pea pods to more easily handle the roughness of picking suddenly causing little Johnny to shoot webbing from his hands and a desire to fight crime, but more likely, toxin genes migrating from the roots to the fruit»

              OK, this tells me that you actually do labor under some erroneous essentialist understanding of how biology works. Before I was not sure of this but I am sure now.

              I really don’t know how to deal with explaining this but I will try. Biology does not work that way. I’m not sure what a “spider web gene” is or why inserting it into a pea genome would allow peas to better handle shipping but let’s just pretend that it would for the sake of argument. If you did this, it would in no way make your pea plant spider-like. There’s no essence of spideriness associated with that gene. The genetic construct will be a long sequence of 4 different bases (represented as A,T,C & G) that are the same exact bases that are in your DNA and in the pea plant’s DNA and which serve as a code to make the molecular biology of a plant work in a certain way (generally, some are there to serve as a template for a sequence of amino acids to synthesize a given protein and the rest are there so that the protein coding part is accepted as valid “code” by the cellular machinery in a given context). It’s all just a code. There’s no essential nature of spider that carries over into that code.

              If you insert this putative web gene of yours, that is all you are inserting. When you do this, the sequence that you are using is very well determined. You should know the letter (A,T,C &G) of every spot in the sequence (and, when you are done, you will double check it). Nothing else comes along with it. You don’t have any chance of a random spider characteristic being passed along. In fact, to talk about “spider characteristics” when you are inserting only one to a few genes in a background of many tens of thousands of genes and their associated gene regulatory context doesn’t even make sense. There will be no spider toxin genes randomly migrating to various plant parts.

              Like if you copy a recipe from The French Chef Cookbook to your own recipe file you will not put yourself at risk of transforming yourself into Julia Child or of randomly acquiring characteristics of Julia Child (like maybe turning into a large, tall woman with a peculiar high pitched voice who cooked like a god).

            • bstnfeeparty

              This is the fourth time you have done this – taken some tangential point and made it either the center of your straw man rebuttal or at least spent several paragraphs on it. The ‘spider web gene’ reference is a token nod to GMO scaremongers and their ‘frankenFood’ claims (which I must admit makes a very good sound bite and visual imagery )

              I clearly identified it as a NON ISSUE yet you chose to spend paragraphs in your reply on…what? To swing your ‘mightier than a pen sword of verbosity’ to slay points I didnt even make?

              Good show old chap, good show!

            • August Pamplona

              I was going to say I may have misinterpreted what you wrote, because I thought that you had meant that while we shouldn’t worry about people acquiring the ability to shoot silken threads spiderman style we might have to worry about spider toxin genes appearing in vegetables, but, re-reading it again, I think you are now dissembling.

              You wrote what you wrote in the context of having just made a point to call bullshit (as you put it) on the notion of how random genes in your food are not going to be incorporated by the person eating them. What that context tells me is that even if you do not believe that that particular example (spider toxin genes in snap peas) is literally possible or likely (I can’t read your mind and your writing seems similarly opaque –but I have to wonder why you would seemingly use it as a supporting example if it was unrelated to your point), you believe that something similarly absurd might be similarly possible.

              Clearly you must believe this because that is what “calling bullshit” on something means. It means that whatever that something is that you are calling bullshit on is incorrect. Technically, I guess what you were calling bullshit on was the notion of a consumer incorporating genes from their food* rather than on the notion of a crop plant randomly incorporating genes totally unrelated to the transgenic construct used in a transformation event but that was the example you chose to use so I don’t think it’s that surprising that I misread you and responded to the example that you actually used rather than the example that you were really thinking very hard about but failed to put down in writing. You really are not a paragon of clarity (and I should know: it takes one to know one –because, let’s face it, I can get wordy myself at times).

              Nevertheless, if your point was regarding the random incorporation of genes from your food rather than regarding your food randomly incorporating genes from somewhere else* your concern is equally absurd. If this is so, your problem should not be with genetic engineering. Since you brought up spiders, your food will always have trace amounts of insect parts and where there have been insects arachnids usually follow so it stands to reason you have been eating spider bits all your life. With those spider bits comes spider DNA. Why are you not worried about the possibility of suddenly starting to shoot spider webs out of your ass?

              In fact, forget gluten phobia, why aren’t you afraid of growing plant parts leaves after you eat a loaf of bread?

              * That only works if you are a bdelloi rotifer and even then it would be ridiculously rare from the standpoint of an individual.

            • tl;dr?

              So, because you can’t comprehend basic biology you say “fuck it, I won’t read it.” That’s why you are filled with ignorance and foolishness. Your mind is closed to new information, and you have created an a priori conclusion that fits your beliefs rather than examining ALL of the evidence and seeing if there’s a reasonable conclusion.

              But good luck going through life with your head in the sand. I live a wonderful one because I’m open to new ideas, and pushing the limits of knowledge. I do it skeptically, but I will read anything that someone writes, as long as it is based on evidence and good logic. Yours fails on both.

            • bstnfeeparty

              “tl;dr” is a demand for BREVITY over unnecessary VERBOSITY (as you yourself use in your article; “Tl;dr version” )
              It is also a somewhat dismissive way of responding to someone’s blather.

              I assure you I more than understand basic and some advanced Biology. What I implore YOU to understand that it is not the mechanics I fear, but the runaway behavior of companies acting without restraint, morals or ethics.

              Air travel is safe – you remember Valujet? (google that airline)
              Bhopal – remember that?
              “GMO” is basically a side issue for me, its not that its not safe – its that its practitioners CANNOT BE TRUSTED, especially in the current regulatory framework

            • Daniel Pyron

              Have seen no evidence of even a basic understanding of biology and forget about any advanced concepts.

    • Natural or artificial selection requires waiting years for a particular mutation. And mutations are random, caused by anything from a coding error in a gene to cosmic radiation to whatever. Are you saying there’s some mystical power that makes that mutation better or more natural than inserting a gene?

      Are you nuts?

      We have human insulin produced by E. coli bacteria that has saved the lives of millions of people across the world? In your fallacious world, we’d have to wait a million years for the right set of mutations to give us a bacteria that produces a replica insulin protein, given that the E. coli has no use for insulin.

      We have corn that resist whatever pest we think is best. Instead of letting people starve, we can insert a gene and fix it.

      You want to make some appeal to some higher being that “natural selection is good” and bioengineering is evil. Well, it doesn’t work that. Natural selection gave us polio. Bioengineering (so to speak) ended it. You fail on this point.

      • bstnfeeparty

        Are you saying there’s some mystical power that makes that mutation better or more natural than inserting a gene?”
        No.
        The power is not a mystical one, but an operational one.

        It is akin to a gun being in a lockbox with the ammo in a separate locked box being safer (albeit less convenient) than a hair trigger shotgun on the coffee table. The built in throttling and delays (albeit a legislative review and oversight system) makes the older methods of production ‘safer’ than the current GMO systems ( in relation to food crops)

        As for drugs, TOTALLY DIFFERENT SITUATION.

        Food – presumed to be good. If it grows, didnt rot on the tree or got pooped on in transit, EAT IT.

        Drugs – Always presumed suspect, subject to qualitative controls EVERY STEP OF THE WAY and tested thereafter with random pulls from store shelves to test shelf life and potency issues.

        The FDA and its sister organizations are not perfect, and are subject to some manipulation from lobbyists, but nonetheless are part of a SYSTEM that protects its products along the entire chain, BECAUSE THERE IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PRESUMPTION RE: THE PRODUCT(S).

        You get me now? I hope so, I have no crayons 🙁

  • Pingback: The solid GMO scientific consensus | plantlawyer()

  • David Doran

    Reminds me of this excellent post from Brian Cox. http://www.apolloschildren.com/blog-item.php?id=27. He was focusing on AGW but the commentary was intended to be generally applicable. “The consensus scientific view is the best we can do at any given time, given the available data and our understanding of it”

    • Sort of.

      There is a continuum of scientific knowledge from observations up through consensus then scientific theory.

      So, Cox oversimplifies it. A consensus arrives from a mountain of high quality data. A theory is more than that, it can be predictive of future events based on current data. To overcome a consensus or even a theory, it would have to take overwhelming and utterly unassailable high quality data.

      It happens, but not as frequently as you imagine. People point out where science changed direction, but that was because of evidence, not because the science was wrong. And even then, it happens so rarely, that it’s ridiculous. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution stands today, despite the knowledge we have gained over the past 2 centuries….DNA, RNA, viruses, fossils, etc. etc. Most theories and consensus have never fallen by the wayside, and in fact, have grown more powerful as more evidence is gained.

      And no, scientific consensus is not the “best we can do.” That’s an Argument from Ignorance, meaning “just because we can’t prove it is yes, then there’s a possibility that’s it’s no.” Wrong. If we have looked and looked and found nothing but “yes”, then it’s incumbent on “no” to bring equivalent evidence.

      We shouldn’t make science sound so arbitrary and pathetic. It’s actually a quite powerful method to finding out the truth about the natural universe.

  • Chris Preston

    Regardless of the evidence some people will go with their pre-conceived notions and reject any evidence that does not agree.

    Added to that in both the climate change and GM fields there is invented evidence that is typically published in odd journals and then held up as “peer-reviewed evidence” as if that one paper trumps all the other science that has been done.

    People who are not expert in science see this as being disagreement among scientists and use that disagreement to affirm their existing preconceptions.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      The funny thing is that in most other fields, journal impact factor wouldn’t matter as much (so long as the journal itself isn’t an outright pro-pseudoscience one), since relevant and good science in specialized fields often end up in lower impact journals just because they are so specialized and have such high level wording.

      But in scientific fields where the discussion is highly polarized, journal publication itself acts as a valve for proper science, with the dregs of the available studies sinking to the bottom and the no-name journals, while the properly done science heads to the top, often even to Nature and Science.

      One wouldn’t normally expect this to be the case, but it seems to be one of those statistics and logic-breaking successes of science and publication that just seems to have happened properly. Similar to Wikipedia, really. All logic would be that Wikipedia should have failed years ago based on how it works, but Wikipedia itself has defied those expectations.

  • Daniel Pyron

    Let me start making some popcorn – the denialists will be here soon.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      This should be fun.

    • Byron Williams

      There is a difference between food scientist and climate scientist. The food scientist is support by the business that support GMO’s. No true with climate scientist.

      • So why hasn’t the fossil fuel industry hired enough scientists to outpublish the consensus in their field? If it were that easy, it would be peanuts.

        The consensus on the safety of biotechnology isn’t just supported by the industry:

        https://realfoodorg.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/about-those-industry-funded-gmo-studies/

        • Byron Williams

          Mike Lewinski. The fossil fuel industry has a better plan. Convince conservatives (including politicians) that climate change is a hoax, and it seems that they are winning.

          • bstnfeeparty

            Indeed @Byron Williams, they are focusing on the key, not on the door.

            Despite all the forces that you may have arrayed at the door, by controlling the key ( which may be in the hand of one or two Republicans you can keep EVERYONE OUT.

            Case in point:
            Key = Governor Mike Scott of Florida.
            Climate change denier.
            Despite Florida’s unique risk being a coastal state and the fragile nature of her water supplies, he has fired all the water board people and made it illegal (yes ILLEGAL in an Orwellian sense) to use ANY words that spoke of “climate change”

            “The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting first reported Sunday that
            Gov. Rick Scott’s administration ordered DEP employees, contractors and
            volunteers not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming”
            in official communications.

        • Yeah if it was a battle of funding of denialism, oil and car manufactures destroy a couple of GMO companies in one day.

          Good points.

          • Byron Williams

            Your reply makes no sense!

            • August Pamplona

              I think Skeptical Raptor probably means that that epitome of gigantonormous evil, Monsanto, is barely bigger than Whole Foods Market in terms of gross revenue. This is peanuts compared to big oil. Anything money based that Monsanto might hypothetically be able to do Exxon should be able to do better.

          • Byron Williams

            I have a Masters Degree in Geoscience. I understand the environmental effects of the use of herbicides and pesticides on ground water. However, I do not know the long term results from growing GMOs and neither do you. I also don’t think that chemists, physicists and even biologist know the long term effect. If you want to consume GMOs, please do so. But consumers should have a choice. I do know about crop growing because my family were farmers of produce.

      • You’re inventing a fallacy. Do you think it’s only food scientists that support GMOs? It’s geneticists, biochemists, immunologists, and on and on and on. The AAAS, which brought together the consensus, is a broad scientific body with everything from physicists to chemists to biologists. So you’re kind of wrong.

        • Byron Williams

          Ok, give me some of the names and I’ll research their money sources. The AAAS stated that the food was safe to eat. However, are they safe for the environment? As a consumer, I have the right to know what I am eating. It is quite obvious that the quality of our food supply is not good. Just look at the health of the American citizen. I know, there may not be a correlation.