A Victory for Anti-GMO Forces and a Blow to Science

UPDATE: Additional news stories and responses at bottom.

The campaign by Greenpeace and other anti-GMO groups to abolish the position of the European Union’s chief science advisor appears to have succeeded.  James Wilsdon, a professor of science and democracy at the UK’s University of Sussex, laments this news in the Guardian, including the odd timing of the announcement:

Borrowing a trick from the Jo Moore school of media management, the European Commission chose the evening before the Rosetta landing to quietly confirm that its most senior scientific role, that of chief scientific adviser (CSA) to its president, is being scrapped.

Mark Lynas has a rundown at his website.  He also notes:

But look – who else is celebrating the decision to abolish the European science advisor role? The climate sceptics, who hated Anne Glover’s equally accurate advice on the serious danger of climate change just as much as the greens hated her scientifically-accurate views on GMOs. It looks like Greenpeace has found itself with some uncomfortable but rather apt new bedfellows.

This is exactly what I pointed out in Slate a few years ago, which didn’t sit well in some quarters.

The green movement needs to address its GMO problem. If there are no environmentalist leaders willing to challenge the misinformation and scaremongering propagated by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other high profile vessels, such as Vandana Shiva, then the latter forces are more than happy to fill the vacuum. And they will continue to distort the science related to GMOs. That has consequences, as we see today.

UPDATE:  I dashed off this post early, while on the road. So I’m going to add responses and reactions when I can. Here’s one from the respected UK climate scientist Richard Betts that captures the hypocrisy of Greenpeace:

Stephan Lewandowskly, a cognitive researcher who has published several studies on climate skepticism, also takes Greenpeace to task. He writes that,

psychologically, cognitively, and politically, science denial is denial is denial is denial. Wherever it happens to be pointing.

Lots of scientists are angry, the BBC reports. The Telegraph says that Jean-Claude Juncker, the new President of the European Commission, decided

to sack Prof Glover came after France made it clear to him that her opinions on GM technology were unacceptable and that the post should be scrapped.

“She’s controversial because of her views on GM. Juncker doesn’t like the idea of GM crops being approved by the EU on scientific grounds. Even worse, she had upset the French,’ said an EU source.

Glover responded to this story on Twitter, saying it was false and asked for an apology. (It’s worth noting that Juncker is also in the hot seat over another issue making news.) David Ropeik, a writer who specializes in risk, says that the EU, in bowing to special interest group pressure (driven by anti-GMO sentiment),  is “essentially letting the frightened mob rule.”

Roger Pielke Jr., a University of Colorado political scientist, thinks many people are jumping to unwarranted conclusions:

Sorry, but I’ve seen no evidence to support that Junker’s junking of CSA [Chief Scientific Advisor] has anything to do with green advocacy. Correlation =/= causation

— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) November 13, 2014

I suspect that if reporters stay on the story, the reasons behind the decision to terminate the European Union’s scientific advisor position will eventually come out.

88 Responses to “A Victory for Anti-GMO Forces and a Blow to Science”

  1. “It looks like Greenpeace has found itself with some uncomfortable but rather apt new bedfellows.” Greenpeace has been in bed with those people for 40 years now.

  2. mem_somerville says:

    A lot of people don’t remember that the EU greens got in the way of stem cell research too. They are actually pretty retrograde in a lot of ways.

  3. RobertWager says:

    “We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

    Carl Sagan

  4. JH says:

    hmmm.
    No doubt many of the people commenting here have TAd undergrad lab courses. That experience should make it clear that there will never be wide understanding of technology. We’ll just have to live with that.

  5. Tom Scharf says:

    Because everyone knows we all want Greenpeace making our science decisions…

  6. Aveskde says:

    Never let facts get in the way of purist ideology, right Greenpeace?

  7. Tom Scharf says:

    That is interesting. Yet another future “infinite fear” argument. I’m not buying into Taleb’s argument that GMO’s represent a global contagion versus a local contagion. He didn’t spell out exactly why that is, the mechanism, at least not in this article. Monoculture has nothing to do with GMO’s, you can have monculture with any crop.

    At its heart, as with most GMO activists, it is really the “don’t mess with Mother nature” nature is always right fallacy:

    “There is no comparison between tinkering with the selective breeding of genetic components of organisms that have previously undergone extensive histories of selection and the top-down engineering of taking a gene from a fish and putting it into a tomato,” they argue. “Saying that such a product is natural misses the process of natural selection by which things become “natural.””

  8. bradford cutler says:

    I guess they acted before the
    corporatist could engage their lobbying efforts, good one. No one
    wants GMO crops that lack adequate long term testing. The pace in
    which these giants like Monsanto are bringing inadequately tested
    products to the market is dizzying. Who wants to be a human guinea
    pig.

  9. JBaileyz says:

    WTF, Europe? I’ve been trying to find a good history/summary of the EU’s attitudes and actions re: GMOs. The few bits I’ve found seem rather schizoid, where they can’t cultivate them but are burdening their economy by importing it from other countries instead. This week they just voted to allow member nations to ban GMOs, but if they weren’t allowing cultivation in the first place, what does that mean? And now they’re firing their science expert. My brain hurts.

  10. Aveskde says:

    Are you anti-science folks even aware that you’re being blindly led in support of a multibillion dollar industry which profits from fear and ignorance?
    Organics isn’t about small farmers. It’s big business which uses fear as a marketing tool. They want you to blindly hate Monsanto because it distracts from this. Your prejudice against capitalism makes you saps for industry propaganda coming from the other direction.

  11. Chris Preston says:

    For a scientist, this is a really retrograde step. I don’t want to bash Greenpeace specifically, because there were a whole host of other organisations lobbying to do away with this position and they all should shoulder the blame. But I do this is an indictment on organisations who when they don’t like the evidence do away with it.

    In Australia, we still have a Chief Scientist, but there is no portfolio for science and the Government is down-sizing the national research organisation. There the agenda is being driven by climate change denialists.

    Ignoring the scientific evidence is not good policy. The underlying factors don’t change because you ignore them. Making policy based on unevidenced garbage means that worse outcomes occur in the future.

  12. mem_somerville says:

    I was just thinking about how nice it’s been to see the climate community support the plant scientists. And then it struck me–well, they should, we are all in the same boat.

    Then the image of the Rainbow Warrior ramming into the side of our ship struck me as really sad and funny.

  13. hyperzombie says:

    Taleb’s black swan theory is more applicable to conventionally bred plants than GMOs.

  14. hyperzombie says:

    Well I guess that old saying is true “The squeaky Tin Foil Hat gets the grease”

  15. Warren Lauzon says:

    Just an opinion, but the gradual swing of Europe over the past few years towards “politics over science” is a major contributor to the suckiness of the European economy and it’s almost total failure to recover from the recession.

  16. Warren Lauzon says:

    It is also a reason why some research and companies that depend on heavy research are moving out of Europe.

  17. Warren Lauzon says:

    Do you even have a single clue about all the damage that Green Peace and it allies have caused all over the world in the past few decades? Not just in actual physical destruction, like ripping out crop beds in the Philippines, but outrageously anti-science agendas in India, Europe, and even some parts of Asia? This is not just about GMO’s – this is about one activist group getting wanting to get rid of ALL science – not just the parts you agree with.

  18. Warren Lauzon says:

    You have it pretty much correct. They import millions of tons, especially grains. I think about 40% of the imports are for livestock feed.

  19. Warren Lauzon says:

    Taleb is pretty much off the deep end in much of that. I don’t have any cites for actual studies, but I am guessing that probably hundreds of minor mutations take place every year in nature. Most of those are benign, but there is more of a possibility of some Killer Plant or pest coming from nature than from GMO’s.

  20. Peno Leiva says:

    Kloor, why are you so concerned with this anyway? As a “freelance” writer, are really just so passionate about the issue you’ve taken a self appointed role as ambassador to GMOs and their certain destiny to solve the world’s food production shortcomings? Seriously, if we’re to believe you’re not on the Monsanto payroll, then why so keyed in on this issue? While at it, how do you find yourself incessantly whining about climate issues with your GMO advocacy? Of all issues of contention in the world these just happen to so closely tied that you’re for the most part, if not altogether, unable to type the letters GMO without asserting an undeniable fundamental connection with climate change combatants. Whether you’re a tool of Monsanto as many want to believe, despite good reason, I don’t know and don’t care but one thing is for sure. You are certainly a tool. Just shut it already. Find some other pocket to pander to for the love of god. You’re by no means a viable source of opinion on this subject. And if opinion is all you’ve got, sell us something new for once. I assure you, few, if anyone with a difference of your own opinion other are interested in your redundant nonsensical banter. Any reasonable person sees you’re nothing short of the crazy you protest against. You truly are the opposite of less off.

  21. Jeffn says:

    They remember it. The problem was that it didn’t fit the narrative- only George Bush was supposed to be acknowledged as being anti-science. They know who butters their bread.

  22. Jeffn says:

    Greenpeace is a multi-million-dollar a year business. You can’t fundraise on “no problem,” you have to have fear and they know which side of the political spectrum is more likely to open their wallets without thinking.
    The good news is the internet is hurting this effort- millenials will take the five minutes to google instead of simply taking MSNBC’s word for it. The even better news is that the hypocrisy gets noticed. Tells us again why it’s responsible to question everything Greenpeace’s favored men in white lab coats say about GMOs, but irresponsible denial to question anything they say about climate?

  23. JH says:

    Taleb’s entire premise takes no account of the determinative aspects of nature.
    In Black Swan he mixes up examples of processes that are controlled by statistical distributions (the height of individuals in a population) and processes that are controlled by determinative processes (the max height that can occur in a population of a given species, which is determinatively controlled by the physical capabilities of it’s organs and by the physical properties of it’s environment). He doesn’t understand the difference.

  24. Tom Scharf says:

    I’m sure KK gets as many checks from Monsanto as I do from the Koch brothers.

  25. JH says:

    This is a political clout loss for the science research establishment but not a scientific loss for society.

    The position is redundant. No individual has expertise on every issue. If a gov official wants to know what the scientific establishment thinks on any particular issue, there is no shortage of scientific boards and organizations that do have the proper expertise and probably already have a detailed position on the issue.

    Beyond that, at least here in the US we have a scientific and technical organizations that decide what gets done with respect to science. The FDA rules on the safety of GMO and food. The EPA rules on pesticides and many other environmental issues.

    It’s great for politicians to have their own scientific advisors. But the executive branch of government doesn’t need another one. It already has hundreds.

  26. Norbrook says:

    Here’s the pathetic part about the “adequate long-term testing” you tout: GMO crops are the most extensively tested crops in history, before they’re allowed out. Here’s the sad part: I can take seeds, hit them with mutagenic chemicals, blast them with radiation, and then plant them to see if something “desirable” results. If something did result, do you want to know how much testing I’d have to do to market it? None. Zip. I can run it out there, without having a clue as to what else may be different.

  27. bradford cutler says:

    Let me give you an
    example of GMO research. I’m an entomologist by trade that got concerned over
    the decline of migratory Monarchs without any overt apparent natural factors
    that would cause a population crash like we are now seeing unfold. Immediately, the research community decided
    that it was due to the loss in the abundance of milkweed (Monarch host
    plant). I found several good references
    on the internet on milkweed abundance in Ohio where I grew up as a youth and
    they are thriving there and elsewhere (check it out). After placing some calls and asking some
    pointed questions to the academic researchers, I concluded they were
    incompetent as field research investigators as they could not justify their
    conclusions about the milkweed abundance as a fact for Monarch decline. Maybe Monsanto steered them in that
    direction, I don’t know… It then became apparent to me that something was
    killing them but not preventing them from reproducing in the field. After an
    extensive literature research and looking up and finding that there has been
    drastic increases in the planting of GMO
    Bt corn, it became painfully obvious to me that the adult Monarchs were
    drinking the pooled water within these corn fields that were laced with the Bt
    toxin. The migratory pattern and pollen
    shed coincided perfectly in time over these vast stretches of corn fields. So I
    placed a call to Monsanto (and you can do the same) to see if they had
    conducted any in house nectar and pollen studies of their GMO corn which
    contained the Bt toxin which is highly toxic to the Monarchs and they failed to
    tell me that they had. That gave me my
    answer because like you said, they do in fact conduct a lot of field research
    for the impact on non-target organisms.
    My conclusion was that they had conducted the research but that they would
    not release it as it was quite damming.

  28. bradford cutler says:

    Your are on another planet if you think that why. Show me your numbers please. The organic market is but a fraction of the total crop yield.

  29. bradford cutler says:

    Well let me say this. They have kicked you guys out of Europe and now your research station has been closed down in Hawaii. Is you public relations that bad or is it that the public doesn’t believe your long term data which you don’t have, do you how? If you had a good PR campaign coupled with strong research results rather than release these GMO crops without any credible public awareness, we would not be where we are now. The customer is always right, oh you seemed to have forgotten that good business practice.

  30. Aveskde says:

    Look up the USDA figures:

    U.S. organic food sales were $28 billion in 2012 (over 4 percent of total at-home food sales), up 11 percent from 2011.

    This is not a tiny group fighting as underdogs but is instead very lucrative business which has made major strides in damaging GMOs internationally.

  31. bradford cutler says:

    It is still underwhelming when compared
    to what the total percent is of crop yield. I agree with you that it
    is a fast growing business and why is that? GMO’s! And Monsanto for
    example is keenly aware of this trend and has a financial interest in
    the Whole Foods chain for example, so they are covering themselves at
    both ends of consumer behavior. My biggest beef about agriculture
    is that it is not listening to the consumer in that you have all
    these food additives, growth hormones in meats, antibiotics in meats,
    Bt toxins in corn and other crops as well, with other residues that really
    don’t benefit the consumer but the manufacture and the producer. The
    consumer doesn’t have a say or seat at the table and the USDA which
    approve these “chemicals” are loaded with employees who are from
    industry and have a vested interest in their successful release into
    the marketplace (USDA head from Monsanto for example). There just
    isn’t any confidence within the public and I don’t blame them for
    being skeptical here.

  32. Aveskde says:

    It is still underwhelming when compared to what the total percent is of crop yield. I agree with you that it is a fast growing business and why is that?

    It is big money invested in a pseudoscientific notion of food.

    More than a thousand studies have been conducted on GMOs, and the technology itself has had twenty years of commercial history. It is a thoroughly safe technology but the organics market bet on it being unsafe, and has to run on that image.

    Do you get it? Organics bet on the wrong horse. They bet that science would find it to be unsafe and that they would replace GMOs in the market. They did not, instead they lost the science argument thoroughly. All they have now is fear and misinformation.

    But like any capitalist industry they aren’t prepared to go down without a fight. Think of it like the format wars between BluRay and HDDVD. Both camps were ferocious against each other. Imagine if HDDVD started to put out propaganda that BluRay made your TV explode, and spent millions of dollars convincing people of the need to know this “information” in the form of stickers on disk cases. It’s really just a turf war for market share, but suddenly people are protesting for the right to know if their disks will cause their TVs to explode.

    That is Organics in a nutshell.

    My biggest beef about agriculture is that it is not listening to the consumer in that you have all these food additives, growth hormones in meats, antibiotics in meats, Bt toxins in corn and other crops as well, with other residues that really
    don’t benefit the consumer but the manufacture and the producer.

    That is not a GMO issue though. Being angry about something and then letting a group of people lead you to support anti-science is blind.

    Also, Bt toxins don’t affect people. They affect insects.

    Are you aware of the history of margarine? Early on in its commercial production, dairy associations managed to lobby to get it banned, or sold without color, or sold dyed pink, among other restrictions.

    The intent was to make this imitation butter nonthreatening to their market.

    That is what organics is trying to do with GMO food. It is trying to damage its marketing ability.

  33. JH says:

    Well, I for one am more than happy to argue for the wide acceptance of GMOs and own shares in Monsanto and United Natural Foods.
    I’m happy if everyone makes money, and I’m certainly thrilled if people want to pay a premium price for a product.

    The problem on the GMO issue is this: the existing products have been tested intensively. There is no evidence at all that GMO are unsafe either for human consumption or ecologically. There is no theoretical reason for them to be unsafe. SO WHY DO WE NEED TO LABEL THEM? We don’t.

    If some companies want to market a GMO-free product and label it as such, fantastic. If it makes money, I’m more than happy to jump in. But it’s up to the market to decide that. Them’s the rules.

  34. Norbrook says:

    Well, first thing is that you’re an idiot if you’re an entomologist. Try doing a literature search, or even better, contact a botanist. “Nectar” from corn. Hmm…. well, that would be tough to show any studies, since corn doesn’t have it. It’s wind pollinator. Which a two minute check of Wikipedia would show you.

  35. JH says:

    you don’t strike me as a customer.

  36. iFred says:

    Sorry, but when somebody quotes Lewandowski, who himself makes science look like a circus, automatically disqualifies his message.

    It’s time science, in the broadest sense of the word, is returning to where it once was, where are scientists today like Feynman, Einstein, Faraday, Newton to name a few geniuses, where are the scientific breakthroughs the last 50-80 years? Today it only matters how much you get publicized in Nature, Science and ride on the AGW and sustainable gravy train…

  37. bradford cutler says:

    I’ve worked with Bt both in
    the lab and in the field. It is an
    extremely safe insecticide. At the time
    I left testing it (35 years ago), they had canceled the harvest restrictions in
    that you could harvest for example lettuce the very next day after spraying
    Bt. I did not have a problem with that
    then and I don’t have a problem with that now, but went you start inserting the
    Bt producing gene so that ever cell in that plant produces the toxin to what I
    think are unacceptable high levels, then I have a major problem with that in
    terms of health and the environment (non-target organisms). Furthermore, with
    the insecticide resistance that is now occurring in the field, industry
    (Monsanto) is about to insert even more Bt producing genes into the gnome
    increasing the dose level to unheard of levels and they also plan to use
    different Bt toxins as well (Bt produces a multiple number of different toxins
    both in crystal and spore form), so you will have a cocktail of toxins if they
    follow through on there thinking. Finally
    I still use Bt to spray my oak trees when needed to control canker worms and
    the forest tent caterpillar. Do I eat Bt
    corn from the supermarket Noooooooo !

  38. bradford cutler says:

    I agree that the marketplace should dictate success given that the safety issues are adequately addressed and all this is under the umbrella of transparency which in my mind has not been the case to date.

  39. Chris Preston says:

    For someone who has claimed to be both an entomologist and
    to have tested Bt, you are hopelessly ignorant.

    There are numerous formulations of Bt spores used as insecticides. Indeed these are the only formulations allowed in organic farming. They contain a number of toxins and are sprayed indiscriminately on crops, non-target plants and insects.

    Bt crops on the other hand only have the Bt in the plant cells and so only affect insects that eat the plants.

    Bt is rapidly broken down under the acidic conditions of mammalian stomachs and has virtually no toxicity. The LD50 is >10,000 mg/kg bw, making it much less toxic than common salt. Humans consume about 5,500 mg/day of salt.
    You would never consume that much Bt from eating corn – you would have to eat 8.4 thousand tonnes of corn a day to do so.

  40. bradford cutler says:

    I am an entomologist with a PhD in that field with experience both in the private and public sector and as matter of fact there are current studies that would refute your claim to it being totally innocuous in mammals as stated by a recent French study showing tumor growth in mice. Get your facts straight before engaging your propaganda for public consumption. You might want to check that study out, for the rest of you, I would highly recommend
    organically grown corn with the knowledge that they (Monsanto) are about to double down and increase the level of Bt toxin production in corn to even higher levels, all in a losing effort to fight the mounting insect resistance in the field. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

  41. Chris Preston says:

    That French study showing tumour growth in mice? You mean this study http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637 that was retracted because it was junk science?

    It wasn’t even about Bt. They fed the mice Roundup Ready maize and Roundup herbicide.

    If you are an entomologist with a PhD; however, did you manage to get a Ph.D. when you can’t even get the content of scientific papers correct?

  42. bradford cutler says:

    Not all studies are junk science as you would like them to be and this is for public consumption for our readership. How is it that the Monsanto cafeteria does not serve any GMO products to their employees. What do they know that the public doesn’t know? That came out in the news about a years ago, would you like to refute that as well? If they don’t even participate in using their own product, then that speaks volumes, doesn’t it

  43. Chris Preston says:

    How is it that the Monsanto cafeteria does not serve any GMO products to their employees.

    They do. http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/what-monsanto-serves-in-its-cafeterias.aspx

    That came out in the news about a years ago, would you like to refute that as well?

    That came out in the news in 1999. That is 15 years ago and referred to a decision taken by a contract caterer in the UK to not source GM foods for their catering business. The caterer just happened to have the contract for Monsanto’s facility at High Wycombe in the UK, a facility that is now closed.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/gm-food-banned-in-monsanto-canteen-737948.html

  44. bradford cutler says:

    It sounds like you have some kind of association or large investment, personal or otherwise with these GMO corn/agricultural products. After serious consideration by the European Union, they rejected your claims of safety and declared them as unfit for their agricultural use. I suppose you are going to declare their position as outrageous and stupid right here before this readership.

  45. bradford cutler says:

    OK! good for you, I can assume they are using their own products now in their cafeteria(s) or not? Please address the EU problem you guys are having and why was your data not supportive enough to convince their research scientists and/or government officials to allow your operations to continue?

  46. Chris Preston says:

    I don’t have an EU problem.

  47. bradford cutler says:

    I noticed your Maui facility got closed down and you won’t be able to reopen it unless their is sufficient safety data to support it’s reopening. Their local concerns as I understand it was that the GMO crop pollen was contaminating some of their local organic grown crops. What will you do to resolve that issue of cross contamination from your GMO pollen (Hybridization). I view that as a very serious problem in GMO crop production.

  48. bradford cutler says:

    Well if you are going to defend it’s safety and others have reviewed the results, I would think you would want to know what concerns they had, to justify taking such drastic steps, after all isn’t that why they closed out that position in Europe as it was no longer needed?

  49. bradford cutler says:

    It sounds like we have
    exhausted our discussion on Bt. We need more monitoring of the Bt. toxin within
    our food chain and the long term health consequences need to be addressed as well. When I hear that the toxin is being found in
    breast milk and that Monsanto is doubling its effort to insert even more and
    different Bt toxic genes in order to circumvent a losing effort to combat resistance
    in the field against the targeted insects, then I know we have a problem that
    needs to be addressed with long term studies.
    By the way you were right, it was using a Roundup ready GMO product not
    Bt corn used it that study on mice as I was going on memory and obviously
    confused it with another study as there have been so many lately. I am quite irritated at how fast our fields
    have been converted to GMO crops in particular corn without any adequate
    discourse with the public or good impact studies for long term health and the environment,
    so it doesn’t surprise me that Monsanto has such a bad public relations
    problem.

  50. Chris Preston says:

    It sounds like you have some kind of association or large investment, personal or otherwise with these GMO corn/agricultural products.

    I don’t. I am an agricultural researcher at a University.

    After serious consideration by the European Union, they rejected your claims of safety and declared them as unfit for their agricultural use.

    They didn’t actually. Bt corn has been approved and is grown in Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Poland. It could be grown more widely except individual countries have enacted cultivation bans for political reasons.

  51. Wes says:

    I would be more inclined to support selected GMO’s if the companies who develop new genetic patterns would agree that there is no expectation of ownership of the genes when there are plants pollinated by wind or insects. Once that let it free it is free.

  52. JH says:

    Patents are an important way to protect companies that invest heavily in developing new technologies that improve people’s lives.
    In addition:
    1. SCOTUS recently ruled that genes themselves can’t be patented.
    2. Patents do not confer perpetual ownership of biotechnology or anything else. They expire after 17 years.

  53. JH says:

    “It sounds like you have some kind of association or large investment, personal or otherwise with these GMO corn/agricultural products. “
    phhff! Hilarious. I guess you ran out of ammo.

  54. Tom Scharf says:

    There needs to be a mechanism for return on investment, or there will be no research by the private sector.

    An example of how this plays out is the current Ebola crisis. There are no effective Ebola drugs or vaccines because there is no payback for developing them. Spending hundreds of millions on a drug that very few people will take (check the average income of west Africans) is a quick way to bankruptcy.

    Private sector R&D costs the taxpayer nothing and should be encouraged. There may be areas where it makes sense for the government to fund private sector research directly or engage in research themselves.

  55. bradford cutler says:

    Well I was right about an association in that you work at an
    academic institution in this area as well as others (agriculture). The press
    release I read did in fact overstate the claim in that it applied to select
    countries and I’m sure Monsanto exerted a tremendous amount of political
    pressure to get this far in Europe.
    Monsanto has been waging a war against the American people’s right to
    know over transparency in labeling and other issues. I take the neutral position in that I believe
    that the marketplace not Monsanto should dictate which agricultural products
    succeed and people should have access to all the pertinent information to make
    their own decisions based on food quality and safety. To date, they are not getting it. In reference
    to Bt corn; this is not going to work because of the resistance problem you are
    going (and have currently run into) to run into from the tremendous selective pressure that this is exerting
    on the pest population. .A monoculture of field grown Bt corn will ultimately
    fail including new releases of Bt laden corn cultivars. You need to adopt an integrated pest
    management approach as a solution and Monsanto will fight that as it will cut
    into their profits. Adding additional antibiotic agents in the form of Bt
    toxins or other agents like
    entomopathogenic fungus (eg Beauveria bassiana) will just add to the
    problem. I think the American people are
    looking at the collective chemical load that is entering their food supply be
    it recombinant bovine growth hormone, antibiotic residues in meats in addition
    to the GMO chemical load in non-meat products
    and they are fleeing to organic food choices and I don’t blame them. I
    think they are doing the right thing.
    Actually I think the courts should revisit this whole issue over whether
    or not natural occurring genes can be patented, if they rule that they cannot,
    then all these issues mentioned above will go away.

  56. Loren Eaton says:

    “without any overt apparent natural factors” Seriously? How about the loss of habitat south of our border? Is that natural enough? And do you seriously believe farmers are going to put up with weeds in their fields even if you remove Round Up Ready from the equation?

  57. bradford cutler says:

    Monarchs as well as other insects feed on the corn pollen and nectar, I’ve seen it first hand, granted corn in primarily wind pollenated and don’t need insects to survive/reproduce but that is irrelevant to the discussion here, as they are still visited by insects. You statements here are inaccurate and misleadind My My My we have a lot of Monsanto people here defending the company that is so popular with the American people OH My! Lord have mercy, as I have hit a nerve. The pollen is wind blown into standing water where it is available for uptake by insects like the Monarch, that is where most of the toxic exposure takes place dingbat! . Please show me some of your pollen/nectar studies?

  58. bradford cutler says:

    People! ignore the Monsanto propaganda here and eat more organically grown foods you will be more healthy for it. There are just too many synthetic hormones, additives, preservatives, pesticide and other chemical agent residues in the commercial foods in the US. Infants are particularly vulnerable, lacking adequate detoxifying liver enzymes to break these compounds down quickly enough, that’s why in my mind we are seeing a resurgence in cancer rates. Fortunately the American people are now awake to these facts and are acting accordingly KUDOS TO ALL as you are not buying into this propaganda above. Monsanto and others will just continue to load up the crops with not less but more toxins as they are currently doing to the food supply. It is unsustainable because of the resistance problem, it is a hard lesion that they must learn. In the meantime stay healthy and avoid the propaganda as it will lower your intelligence.

  59. Loren Eaton says:

    This is of course a bunch of OCA drivel from someone who understands no biology whatsoever. There is no evidence that organic is any more nutritious than any other food and the only thing that will lose weight is your wallet.

  60. Loren Eaton says:

    Tom, Shhhhhh!

  61. JH says:

    Our friend “Bradford” must have missed the big study reported by NPR a while back that showed no nutritional differences or health benefits between organic and (what? inorganic? :)) produce.

    Not only is there no health benefit or nutritional difference for organic, there’s no scientific reason to believe there should be.

    Organic is about as effective as prayer at delivering health benefits to food.

  62. Loren Eaton says:

    “…as stated by a recent French study showing tumor growth in mice.” You must’ve gotten that Ph.D. without taking a statistics class. The Seralini study is rubbish.

  63. Norbrook says:

    First point: Monarch adults aren’t major feeders on pollen. Second point: Corn doesn’t produce nectar. Hence, any “observations” on that point on your part just tell me you haven’t made them. I might also point that field studies show that you have to get up to 10 times the pollen level found in corn fields to show toxic effects on milkweed feeding caterpillars

  64. bradford cutler says:

    I can not believe all the young
    Monsanto warriors defending their product line here, the responses
    have been overwhelming so I will refer you to my earlier responses
    and discussions, as I think the subject has been exhausted. Yes, I
    buy primarily organic foods as they are more nutritious, have less
    pesticide residues and are currently selling at bargain basement
    prices at my supermarket in Texas at HEB in the organic food section,
    they are about 20 % higher and well worth it. The agronomic quality
    which I did not discuss earlier, is greatly superior. To all those
    doubting Thomas(s), just buy a bag of organic baby carrots and a few
    organic tomatoes and compare that with the GMO products at the
    supermarket you shop at and you won’t go back to the GMO produce.
    The GMO tomatoes are absolutely tasteless and have the consistence of
    a hardball. Check it out and make your own decision. KUDOS to all
    and lets all use the marketplace and personal choice in this
    endeavor.

  65. bradford cutler says:

    Check out my earlier comments and positions on this matter, However I can not believe all the young
    Monsanto warriors defending their product line here, the responses
    have been overwhelming so I will refer you to my earlier responses
    and discussions, as I think the subject has been exhausted. Yes, I
    buy primarily organic foods as they are more nutritious, have less
    pesticide residues and are currently selling at bargain basement
    prices at my supermarket in Texas at HEB in the organic food section,
    they are about 20 % higher and well worth it. The agronomic quality
    which I did not discuss earlier, is greatly superior. To all those
    doubting Thomas(s), just buy a bag of organic baby carrots and a few
    organic tomatoes and compare that with the GMO products at the
    supermarket you shop at and you won’t go back to the GMO produce.
    The GMO tomatoes are absolutely tasteless and have the consistence of
    a hardball. Check it out and make your own decision. KUDOS to all
    and lets all use the marketplace and personal choice in this
    endeavor.

  66. bradford cutler says:

    Take the taste test, I just got back from the supermarket, I paid 2.98 for 2 Lbs. of carrots to give you a feel for costs.

  67. Chris Preston says:

    Given just about every claim you have made on this thread has been shown to be wrong, shall we just conclude you are full of it and ignore everything you write?

    Just for a short list:

    Your claim to be an entomologist with a Ph.D. is clearly wrong. Otherwise you would know how to read the scientific literature, you would also know that corn does not produce nectar.

    Your experience of Bt has to be vanishingly small, so I don’t believe you worked in testing it. Otherwise you would know that the spores contain multiple toxins and that it would be impossible for a human to consume enough for a toxic effect.

    The Seralini tumour study fed mice RR corn, not Bt corn.

    Europe allows the cultivation of a couple of types of GM crops including Bt corn.

    There are no GMO tomatoes on the market.

    Bt is not an antibiotic.

  68. bradford cutler says:

    There are no pollen, nectar or water studies that show the adverse effect that Bt corn pollen has on migratory Monarchs flying over corn fields during pollen shed in the Spring time in which contact would occur through the Monarch drinking Bt laden water (pooled ground water within the corn field) or pollen/nectar uptake from the plant (tassels) directly(which I have personally witnessed). I’m still waiting for Monsanto to respond, it has been over a year now and I’m still waiting as they have failed to respond. This became a concern of mine when large acreages of Bt corn were being planted at the same time Monarch butterfly populations were plummeting . Adults are far more susceptible to toxins as they lack an elaborate detoxification system like the larval stage. Do you comprehend that?. Like I said I am entomologist you jerk. I can only assume that the data collected is damming to their cause and they won’t release it. SHOW ME THE DATA! because I know Monsanto has that data secured in a dark room within a safe somewhere. You will have to call your boss on that one. It is my contention that barring any data, I suspect that it is the current driving cause for the decimation and impending extinction of migratory Monarchs.

  69. bradford cutler says:

    It is in fact of form of insect “antibiosis” plant resistance, look it up. It is called antibiosis (same thing). Antibiotic is an alternate form. Where in antibiotic does it indicate anti microbial? as it means anti- life. If it is restricted to microbial then I’ll use anti-microbial agent, you moron. You know next time we meet, I’ll forego the material I normally use to goat you little Monsanto Nazi(s) and stick to the hard facts which are the fact that without a solid integrated pest management system in place, all these Monsanto GMO’s are doomed to failure as we are seeing now. We will talk numbers, facts, product longevity etc. Lets talk about that. This is what I have to deal with here? I did overstated some talking points based on memory, as there are so many negative studies about these things and confusing one for another is no big deal, even so everything I stated here is factual correct in principle. Your GMO Bt corn and Roundup ready corn is on the verge of failure and collapse due to resistance. It is unsustainable. You won’t even be around in 10 years as it will be replaced with something far more environmentally sound. You have restricted growers into a failed system, and they will start bailing out soon. Come back to me and we will talk some more. You have an indefensible position and I would get great joy in ripping you one OK! Right here, right now!

  70. bradford cutler says:

    I have had 19 hours of graduate level statistics (minor) with 4 hours as an undergraduate in probability. Would you like to continue a discussion in this area. I would just love that you assuming moron. Here is a problem you can not solve because I developed the formula. You have 10 dice that are rolled on the table. What are the odds that all 6 numbers are represented, then calculate what the probability is to get 5 numbers (one number missing), all showing except one missing (show the formula and work) You can even cheat and go to your University statistics professor and he won’t be able to solve it either. That’s a challenge you stooge!!!!!! I forget more in one day on this subject than you can learn in a lifetime. Here’s one for you. What is the expected mean square ? and why is it so important and critical to know in any analysis of variance design.

  71. Norbrook says:

    For someone who claims to be a Ph.D. in entomology, you’re understanding of … basic biology and insects in general is remarkably lacking. Pollen isn’t exactly “soluble” in water, hence, and the amount of Bt in it as a function of “leaching” would be below detectable levels, and more likely to have an impact on filter feeders like mosquito larvae. Which hasn’t been shown, either. You keep demanding “data,” except you keep ignoring it when presented to you, and completely fail at being able to use this thing we call “a literature search.”

    You want to trade qualifications? Sure, I’ll go there. I don’t work for Monsanto, and never have. My graduate studies were in environmental toxicology, and the guy who was my adviser? He went on to head up EPA’s Hazard Assessment program. Oh, and I currently work in the environmental field, not for a private company. I might note that I also took quite a few entomology courses, and yes, botany. So I’m not particularly impressed with you, and honestly, you’ve been flinging BS since the moment you got here.

  72. Loren Eaton says:

    Why don’t you stop yammering at me and impart some of your brilliance to Dr. Seralini. If you actually read his papers (or the rebuttals) and still agree with his findings…you should ask for your tuition to be refunded.

    Oh and I’m not here to play dice games with you.

  73. bradford cutler says:


    First off it is not a claim it is a fact…I
    have a PhD in entomology TAMU (81-82) Go to past entomology students
    and my name is there in bold print. By the way how do I know your
    credentials are valid as you have been insulting me from the get go. Let’s concentrate on Monarchs now as that is
    my primary concern as they fly over these Bt cornfields and would be
    most vulnerable. The Monarch imbibes much more water and their food
    requirements are much greater than other butterflies because of their
    migratory nature. I’ve asked Monsanto for data and have received nothing in
    response. There are no LD data for any mode of exposure. Now why is
    that? Have they not heard of the decline in Monarchs which are
    constantly flying over those fields during pollen shed? They also feed on
    plant exudates as well not just pollen you idiot. Other butterflies are in
    sharp decline in these areas as well, how come? Where are those studies? I’ll
    ask it again. The GMO era in corn is about to come to a close and that includes
    the Roundup ready product because of weed resistance and lack of an integrated
    pest management approach to alleviate that problem by using all the tools needed
    to combat that and insect resistance as well. Monsanto and you have been very
    stupid about this and here we are, you now have to defend the indefensible
    position. Monsanto is closed shop, locked into its ways of conducting business
    and sound agricultural practices. Their
    arrogance to not accept and adopt other useful alternatives to lessen this
    resistance issue has come home to roost.
    How is my entomology degree doing now? We could very well be on the precipice of
    losing our most beloved insect the Monarch because of your arrogance, if I’m
    correct, can you say lawsuits, I can. We’ll just have to see how this all
    shakes out. I’ll wait for you stupid
    indefensible response in regard to your resistance problem and why you haven’t
    used useful alternatives to prevent it. You know you guys are real morons and
    it is now coming back to bit you. It’s all over now, you’re just not smart
    enough to see it.

  74. bradford cutler says:

    The habitat loss is not in the area where the Monarch roost you idiot that area is protected within a national park . There are just so many morons on this site. Answer my probability question as you insulted my intelligence in that discipline. Who is the stupid one now. ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION SMARTY PANTS!

  75. bradford cutler says:

    Answer my questions!

  76. Chris Preston says:

    Good grief, here we go again. Have you forgotten
    everything you ever learned in biology?

    Antibiotic is not the same as antibiosis. They come from the same Greek root, but mean different things.

    Definition of antibiotic can be found here http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Antibiotic or here http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/antibiotic

  77. Gabby Hayes says:

    For my part I am deeply concerned at the takeover of the Union of Concerned Scientists by a gang of ideologically driven anti scientists. It is positively horrifying that the prestige earned in the arduous campaigns for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament is being squandered on an underhanded anti intellectual agenda.

  78. Gabby Hayes says:

    Brad did not get your little joke. Should we explain it to him?

  79. Gabby Hayes says:

    Seralini is a joke, only a fool would reference his paper. For those who are not familiar with his work, he fed corn to rats that were specifically bred to develop tumors, and then pointed to the tumors as proof of something other than an inbred propensity for tumors.

    And that’s not the worst of it. Seriously, it is the worst paper I have seen in the literature in my forty years as a PhD scientist.

  80. Gabby Hayes says:

    So gracious in defeat, such the gentleman, surely you have become my newest role model.

  81. bradford cutler says:

    The American people think otherwise, lets all watch how Monsanto deals with this resistance problem, stay tuned.

  82. bradford cutler says:

    It has been used in that context before, is that all you have got to address my challenges. How cowardly. I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

    Monsanto is riding a one
    trick pony that is about to have that pony shot out from underneath
    them with a major resistance problem of their own making and
    stupidity. You are an advocate of that stupidity and I feel sorry
    for you because you lack the intellect and problem solving capability
    to see this failed tactic imploding right before your eyes…
    ..Monsanto’s approach to agriculture is an unmitigated ecological
    nightmare and is unsustainable and it would appear that Europe is not
    going repeat that mistake, thus closing out that position. It was
    the right thing to do. The GMO market share in produce is being
    challenged by the organic industry because they produce and offer a
    much better product, how frustrating that must be. . Americans are
    wise enough to start supporting food free of these residues because
    they like myself, don’t want to take chance on a product of
    questionable value. I’m done discussing this, I just get tired of
    talking down to someone like yourself. and others on this website that can not think for themselves. You never addressed my challenges on this site as you lack the intellect to do so…SORRY THE TRUTH HURTS. I’m done with the Bush League and I’m moving on. If you muster up the courage to address my challenges you can reach my on another discussion section in the future. Intellectual cowards, all of you.

  83. JH says:

    There’s no explaining to “brad”. 🙂

  84. JH says:

    Hey “Bradford,” you can type into the little box. You don’t have to copy and paste everything.

  85. JH says:

    Twice the price of equally nutritious “regular” carrots. Brilliant.

    But that’s not all you get Kids! Buy two pounds of equaliy nutritious organic carrots today for twice the price of Factory FrankenCarrots and you’ll be automatically entered in the E. Coli sweepstakes for free! This is your chance to unsuspectingly acquire everyone’s favorite food-borne vomit-inducing diarrhea-provoking naturally deadly bacteria! You won’t get an offer like this from factory farmed carrot producers! So get organic today!

    But I see you didn’t have to cut and paste that post.

  86. JH says:

    If organic tastes so great, well, why are you so worried about it? Won’t everyone jump right in and buy it?

  87. Matthew Slyfield says:

    A gang of ideologically driven anti scientists is all they ever were.

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