Skip to content
Home » Science » Agriculture » Page 3

Agriculture

GMO science

GMO science – overwhelming consensus that it is safe

Real science is hard. It takes lots of high quality evidence to support it. That evidence needs to be published in real journal. It needs to be repeated. And it has to be open to criticism and analysis. GMO science, the study of genetically modified organisms used for crops and food, shows us that GMOs are safe.

The hard work and intellectual challenges to form a scientific consensus about the safety of GMO crops and foods isn’t something that appeared out of the ether. These individuals didn’t suddenly wake up one day and proclaim from the ivory tower that GMO science says that GMOs are safe. Not even close.

Science has provided substantial evidence supporting the assertion that GMO’s are safe. GMO refusers have provided precious little evidence, save for Cherry PickingSpecial Pleading, and a few Strawman Arguments. Oh, and the occasional Poisoning the Well with the Monsanto shill accusations. Sometimes the GMO deniers will resort to the Naturalistic Fallacy that things that grow “naturally” ought to be the way foods should be – this ignores the fact that we’ve been genetically manipulating our food for ten thousand years. We’re just better at it today, but the DNA is still the DNA.

Like I said in another article, “The typical pseudoscientist will use logical fallacies to state very definitively that “it’s proven.” It’s the same whether it’s creationism (the belief that some magical being created the world some small number of years ago), alternative medicine (homeopathy, which is nothing but water, has magical properties to cure everything from cancer to male pattern baldness), or vaccine denialists. The worst problem is that in the world of the internet, if you Google these beliefs, the number of websites and hits that seem to state that they are THE TRUTH™ overwhelm those that are more skeptical or critical.”

So, using an open, but critical mind, the evidence is overwhelming – the GMO science says it’s safe for human consumption.

 

Read More »GMO science – overwhelming consensus that it is safe

scientific consensus on GMO

Scientific consensus on GMO safety and climate change

A scientific consensus is one of the most powerful principles in science, sitting just below the predictive power of a scientific theory. In general, a scientific consensus is the collective opinion and judgement of scientists in a particular field of study. This consensus implies general agreement, and disagreement is limited (sometimes from individuals who are not experts in the field) and considered insignificant.

This lead me to a search for the prevailing scientific consensus on GMO safety and climate change.

For clarity, the major difference between a scientific theory and a scientific consensus is that a theory is essentially considered a fact. The theory of gravity is a fact. The theory of evolution is a fact. A theory is so predictive, it is supported by so much evidence, and it is so well accepted, it would take an incredible amount of data to refute it.

The only thing that matters in forming a scientific consensus or theory is evidence. Not rhetoric. Not debate. Not opinion. Not political expediency. Not logical fallacies. Just evidence.

I’ve written about the scientific consensus on GMOs, and it is clear that nearly every independent scientific organization across the world agrees that GMOs are safe for humans and/or the environment. Moreover, most of these same organizations provide a similar consensus about climate change–ironically, there is a significant portion of people who deny one consensus but accept the other, despite the fact that the consensus for both scientific principles are based on nearly overwhelming evidence.

On the next page, I will review the statements of seven prestigious scientific organizations across the world for the scientific consensus on GMO safety and on climate change.

Read More »Scientific consensus on GMO safety and climate change

malarial cell DDT effects

DDT effects – Paul Offit tries to set the record straight

I don’t judge people by their looks, intelligence, bank account or fame. I only judge people by the good things they have done to save and improve lives. It’s a simple equation. Using a similar life calculator, Dr. Paul Offit, in an article in the Daily Beast, examined the legacy of Rachel Carson, and her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. Published in the early 1960s, Carson was the first to warn that DDT effects include accumulation in the environment, and by doing so, it could bring harm to wildlife. She also warned that its overuse could make it ineffective. And finally, she said that we should use natural means for pest control, like bacteria that killed the mosquito larvae.

If you’re unfamiliar with Paul Offit, he is an inventor of a lifesaving vaccine and provider of scientific information about vaccines – he absolutely cares about human lives, despite the nastiness thrown his way. Dr. Offit’s rotavirus vaccine, which he invented, has saved millions of lives across the world. Who amongst us can make that claim, of saving so many lives?

But Dr. Offit looked at something that is generally ignored with regards to the most important of DDT effects – it killed malaria carrying mosquitoes that kills millions of lives. Today, because of DDT, there is no malaria in the USA. But it’s more than just America, Dr. Offit looks carefully at other successes of the pesticide:

As malaria rates went down, life expectancies went up; as did crop production, land values, and relative wealth. Probably no country benefited from DDT more than Nepal, where spraying began in 1960. At the time, more than two million Nepalese, mostly children, suffered from malaria. By 1968, the number was reduced to 2,500; and life expectancy increased from 28 to 42 years.

It’s hard to imagine, but Nepal had a 99% decrease in malaria infections just because of DDT. From our cozy homes in the wealthy developed world, malaria seems like some distant disease that matters not. But it wasn’t too long ago that malaria was rampant in many areas of the developed world, like Italy, the American south, Greece, and other areas. It’s not some boring disease, it kills.

And since DDT was banned, malaria has come screaming back. According to Dr. Offit, “since the mid 1970s, when DDT was eliminated from global eradication efforts, tens of millions of people have died from malaria unnecessarily: most have been children less than five years old. While it was reasonable to have banned DDT for agricultural use, it was unreasonable to have eliminated it from public health use.”

There is a claim out there that whether we chose DDT, and killed ourselves and the environment, or choose malaria with no DDT, it was all the same. But in fact, real scientific studies have since shown us that the danger from DDT was overstated, while the danger from malaria stayed the same.

It’s the 0,1 binary scale of decision making that we see by a lot of anti-science types. DDT may save lives of by preventing malaria, but any harm to the environment is bad. Either an insecticide must be 100% safe, or it’s 100% unacceptable.

Let’s go into more detail about DDT and Rachel Carson – the story is complicated.Read More »DDT effects – Paul Offit tries to set the record straight

GMO scientific consensus

GMO scientific consensus – it’s broad and unequivocal, they’re safe

I have been writing about the GMO scientific consensus for quite some time, because this scientific consensus for the safety of GMO crops is so overwhelming that it’s almost impossible to ignore. Let me put it this way – if you accept the enormous evidence that supports the scientific theory of climate change, then you should know that there is almost the same volume of evidence that supports the safety of genetically modified foods.

If you accept the science of climate change, but deny the science of GMOs, then you are a science denier. It’s pretty simple. In fact, many of us think that GMO deniers are the left’s version of climate change deniers.

The scientific consensus is based only on evidence. Not politics. Not your snowflake opinion. And certainly not on your cherry picked junk science.  The scientific consensus is the collective opinion and judgement of scientists in a particular field of study. This consensus implies general agreement, and if there is disagreement, it is limited and generally insignificant.

Moreover, a consensus is not permanent, because, as I’ve said a number of times, science is not a dogma. If contradictory evidence arises, of the same quality that formed the original consensus, then the established concord could fall apart, or move to a different one. Remember, all science is provisional – if the evidence changes, the consensus changes.

So, the GMO scientific consensus is based on mountains and mountains of evidence, reviewed by the best scientific bodies in the world. These are the world’s leading scientists, individuals with expertise in agriculture, genetics, biotechnology, and other related fields, who have come together to review that data, and, eventually come to a consensus that appeals to the broadest swath of scientists.

Of course, I’ve written about the GMO scientific consensus many times. Reading comments to those articles are always amusing. In the past, I generally relied on a couple of august scientific bodies for this consensus, but I always get the comment, “yeah but they’re bought off by Monsanto, it only represents a couple of countries,” or any number of other logical fallacies. Thanks to an exhaustive list produced by the Credible Hulk, it’s time to review all of the world’s science organizations’ statements on the GMO scientific consensus. Spoiler alert – there is no consensus that will state GMOs are evil, dangerous, or cause us to fall over dead because corn is growing out of our brain.

Just to be perfectly clear, the term GMO also encompasses other terms like genetically engineered or genetically modified foods. There are no differences between these various terms for these foods. Furthermore, the scientific consensus includes two separate, but related claims:

  1. All GMO crops, that were developed using modern genetic engineering processes and that are approved for commercial use by national regulatory bodies, are as safe to consume and as safe for the environment as the corresponding non-GMO counterparts.
  2. Modern genetic engineering would be no more likely to cause unpredicted dangers than would other methods of changing an organism’s genome (for example, selective breeding, radiation mutagenesis, polyploidy or wide cross hybridization) which have been employed in agriculture for over 10,000 years. And we simply reject the naturalistic fallacy, which some use to claim that “natural” changes to the genome are inherently “better” than genetic engineering.

Read More »GMO scientific consensus – it’s broad and unequivocal, they’re safe

Greenpeace anti-GMO beliefs

Greenpeace anti-GMO beliefs – Nobel laureates say they’re wrong

I have always been fascinated with Greenpeace, especially back in the ancient times, when I had much more activist ideas about environmental issues. They tried to block nuclear missile tests and save the whales, which seemed like the right things to do. But my scientific side matured, and after observing the Greenpeace anti-GMO beliefs for a long while, I’m not sure that they are scientifically literate.

First of all, GMOs have been heavily studied, and they have been found to be safe for animals, humans and the environment.  Moreover, the world’s leading scientific groups have come to the scientific consensus that GMOs are safe.

Yet Greenpeace has anti-GMO as if GMOs were killing whales or something worse. They have been so steadfast in their opposition against GMOs that they have tried, partially successfully, to block the introduction of golden rice, a critical food to saving lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

Well, I guess a bunch of real scientists got sick of Greenpeace anti-GMO beliefs that bordered on Ludditism. So, a group of 110 Nobel laureates wrote a strongly worded letter to Greenpeace, essentially calling it a “crime against humanity.” And yes, it is.

Let’s look at this story with some science.

Read More »Greenpeace anti-GMO beliefs – Nobel laureates say they’re wrong

GMO dangers

GMO dangers – another published paper retracted UPDATE

The science of GMO dangers has been seriously overblown by activists that really have no science behind their beliefs. The safety of GMOs has really reached the point that almost all of the scientific evidence is firmly on the side of the safety of GMO crops and, by extension, foods. Beyond that, the scientific consensus of respected scientific organizations across the world have come to the conclusion that the body of evidence supports the safety of GMO foods. And that GMO crops, which have been around for 10,000 years, are necessary to feed the people of this planet.

Nevertheless, the activists who continue to push the GMO dangers trope continue with their bad science. A few years ago, an article by Gilles-Eric Séralini was published which trumpeted the belief that GMOs cause cancerThat article was widely ridiculed and criticized by scientists across the world. Eventually, because of bad study design, terrible statistics, and harsh criticism of the conclusions, the journal that published the article retracted it.

It’s clear, at least to me, that when a side of a sociopolitical debate lacks scientific evidence, such as the anti-GMO side, they grab at anything, including Séralini’s retracted study, in an attempt to cherry-pick themselves into scientific legitimacy.  And it’s happened again.

Read More »GMO dangers – another published paper retracted UPDATE

almond milk

Almond milk – examining the science behind this food fad

Food fads are plain annoying, but I just tend to ignore them, unless I’m feeling in a mood. Yesterday, I had purchased my favorite drink at  the Big Coffee drive through, which is just a large bold coffee, black. Well, something got mixed up and I ended up with a latte, which I generally don’t mind. Except this latte was made of a foul tasting substance, almond milk. Really?

Food fad believers often intersect with anti-science activists in other areas, like vaccines, GMOs and quack cancer cures. Sure, there may be a subset of individuals who think that almond milk tastes great – which would lead me to question the quality of their taste buds – but they aren’t the majority. Most people just believe that almond milk is healthier.

Well, does almond milk have any health benefits beyond regular every day milk? And is there some unintended consequences to buying almond milk?

Let’s look at almond milk. No taste tests are required.

Read More »Almond milk – examining the science behind this food fad

GMO labeling law

GMO labeling law – Senate thinks they’re smarter than scientists

I actually thought that the GMO denier arguments were petering out. I also actually thought I could focus on the vaccine deniers, since they’re like cockroaches, hiding in the dark. But I was wrong. The United States Senate, in a rare bipartisan action, wrote a compromise GMO labeling law.

I, and many others, consider the anti-GMO movement to be made up of “climate change deniers of the left.” They both ignore high quality science and the scientific consensus, just to invent their own conclusions. It is frustrating, especially since I expect more out of progressives.

The GMO labeling law is frustrating and confusing. We need to examine it with scientific skepticism.

Read More »GMO labeling law – Senate thinks they’re smarter than scientists

genetically engineered crops

Genetically engineered crops – safe for humans and animals

For the past few years, I’ve posted nearly 50 articles here discussing the relative safety of genetically engineered crops. I’ve debunked myths. I’ve written about massive studies that show that they are safe for humans and animals, and, frankly, also for the environment.

I’ve also discussed the broad scientific consensus that supports the safety and usefulness of genetically engineered crops. This consensus derives from the best scientific minds in genetics, agriculture, botany, biomedical sciences, and many other areas of science germane to this topic.

And no different than the climate change deniers, who reject the broad scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, the anti-GMO activists reject science for any number of logical fallacies, and cherry picking of the science that supports their preordained beliefs. Many of us believe that the anti-GMO crowd are the left’s version of climate change deniers.

A new report has reviewed 900 studies and data since genetically modified crops were first introduced. And what did they find? Genetically engineered crops are safe.

Read More »Genetically engineered crops – safe for humans and animals

Anti-GMO articles retracted

Anti-GMO articles retracted – shocking news

I’ve written this about 1 million times online (give or take 990,000) – the only thing that matters in science is evidence. Not opinion, not anecdotes, not bad research. The science that supports the safety and productivity of GMO crops is overwhelming, while one more of the anti-GMO articles has been retracted.

Science wins. And I guess lies and manufactured data don’t.

If this sounds familiar, it is. I wrote about a few weeks ago, discussing  a paper, by Federico Infascelli and other colleagues, an animal nutrition researcher at the University of Naples in Italy, who attempted to show that GMO soybeans consumed by female goats could pass modified genes into the blood and organs of baby goats.

According to an article in Retraction Watch, there was a lot more going on. The good people at Retraction Watch translated an article in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which claimed that “an investigation suggests that Infascelli has manipulated images to suggest GMOs are harmful. He could face fines and be suspended from the university.”

Retraction Watch also  that La Repubblica “also reported that a committee appointed by the rector of the university, Gaetano Manfredi, found errors in Infascelli’s data that suggested he had manipulated the results to show GMOs were harmful.”

And Infascelli’s research improprieties continue to grow.

Read More »Anti-GMO articles retracted – shocking news