Neil deGrasse Tyson To GMO Critics: ‘Chill Out’

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By Lauren F Friedman

 

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, perhaps the country’s most famous scientist, has a message for critics of genetically modified foods: “Chill out.”

In a video we first saw at Mother Jones, he answers a question, asked in French, that roughly translates to: “What do you think about genetically modified plants?”

We have been genetically modifying food for “tens of thousands of years,” he points out, and there’s no reason to fear GMO foods created in a lab any more than seedless fruits created through selective breeding. GMO technology might scare people, he suggests, simply because “people don’t fully understand it.”

Tyson may not be a GMO expert, but the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the European Commission all agree with him on the safety of GMO foods. So does the research.

Here is his answer, in full:

I’m amazed how much objection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public. It smacks of the fear factor that exists at every new emergent science, where people don’t fully understand it or don’t fully know or embrace its consequences, and therefore reject it. What most people don’t know, but they should, is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food.

 

Read more and see the video here.

90 COMMENTS

  1. I am a fan of science and have an honours degree in research science, not that it really matters. However, I have to say that GMO foods still concern me. Genetics is complex, we do not fully understand all the complex, almost chaotic interactions between genes and between genes and their environment. Therefore everybody should be concerned about the risks of genetic modification of the food supply.

    That is regardless of the sociopolitical and legal concerns such as ownership of genes and seed-saving, the loss of biodiversity that GM seed could create and the economic concerns that arise from the cost of GM seed.

    GMO food is a case, in my opinion, of too far too fast.

    • Genetics is complex… Therefore everybody should be concerned about the risks of genetic modification of the food supply.

      Firstly, if the effects of genetic changes in food species, which have been going on since the Agricultural Revolution. are an only partially understood risk, it behooves us to reduce our ignorance about their details as far as possible. So-called GMOs are characterised not by the fact that genetic modification has occurred, but by the fact that we know the details of the changes. This may not make us omniscient concerning their liable consequences, but it’s an improvement over the way we used to do things.

      Secondly, although genetics as a whole are complex, the changes due to one gene can usually be predicted reasonably well. (I think Richard Dawkins discusses this subtlety in The Extended Phenotype.)

      Thirdly, after billions of people have eaten GMO-rich diets for decades, not a single human health effect, however rare, has ever been linked to any GMOs. So let’s stop pretending we haven’t a clue whether they’re safe; the evidence strongly suggests they are.

      Fourth, a risk assessment needs to consider the risks of all options. We know exactly what would happen if we abandoned GMO lines; our food production would plummet, causing billions to starve, in many cases fatally. There’s a good reason we’ve cut extreme poverty in half since 1990.

      That is regardless of the sociopolitical and legal concerns such as ownership of genes and seed-saving, the loss of biodiversity that GM seed could create and the economic concerns that arise from the cost of GM seed. GMO food is a case, in my opinion, of too far too fast.

      Again, you have to look at the other side. I would like to see Monsanto’s power reduced, but you can’t impugn GMOs, to the detriment of the world’s hungry, because copyright law needs reform. The economic effect has been to increase food supply, thereby reducing world hunger. As for biodiversity, there are many things people do that reduce that, but there’s no evidence that the escape of GMOs’ genes into wild species has appreciably worsened the situation.

      LIke it or not, the numbers mean GMOs are here to stay. I hope my points have made that fact more tolerable.

      • GMO using existing genes from the genotype of a species, such as is done in traditional plant breeding, is rather different to insertion of genes from outside of a species. I would be concerned about the effect these insertions could have. I am not alone, David Suzuki, a professional scientist in genetics before becoming a TV presenter and activist expresses similar concerns. see: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/food/understanding-gmo/

        The loss of biodiversity is not just because of escape of genes but is rather a consequence of farmers no longer growing the old varieties they once grew. Granted, some of those changes are due to traditional breeding techniques but GMO would accelerate those changes. Biodiversity of food crops is just as important as biodiversity in non-human environments.

        On another note, I can’t remember where to find the reference but I have read many times that the touted increase in production from GMOs is false. The most productive forms of agriculture are small scale indigenous aricultural systems using local indigenous plants.

        I have no problem with people believing that GMO is ok, what i have a problem is the belief that “supports science” equates with “supports genetic engineering”.

      • You talk like some sort of god. Do you believe people have a right to choose? If so, how can you say ‘like it or not, the numbers mean GMOs are here to stay’? If you know anything you know that many nations have banned them in various respects.
        You should also be aware, and if you are, have the courtesy to acknowledge those who think very differently from you. See here: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/01/fine-print-food-wars
        Additionally, the bio-tech industries have been duplicitous in bending their debate towards GMOs which as you rightly say have been here for thousands of years. However, that industry’s use of glyphosate is extremely new on that timescale as is the resultant emergence of so-called ‘super-weeds’ now posing problems unseen until the last decade or so.
        You also pay minimal attention to all the corruption that is inherent in the corporate land grab and corruption that is associated with the capitalisation of what was previously a predominantly peasant industry – farming. To quote from the article I’ve linked to “Last month an investment fund sued DuPont for $1 billion for pushing herbicide-resistant crops knowing fully well they would fail to control weeds and instead contribute to the emergence of “superweeds”.” It is no good to pretend that this is a different subject. Bio-tech’s involvement in GMOs would not be happening if big bucks were not involved.
        You write: “So let’s stop pretending we haven’t a clue whether they’re safe” but that is based solely on the evidence about ingesting the crops – no mention of the attendant herbicides that bio-tech now sprays to grow them. We live thanks to a living biosphere – not supermarket shelves. So sorry, I and many more have justified reasons to believe that they are NOT safe. If you pretend certainty on this issue then you need educating.

        • John HH Aug 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

          What is your position on package labelling?

          I don’t believe any form of package labelling will provide accurate information beyond that already provided by USDA Certified Organic, which still is incomplete and can be inaccurate. However anything not ‘certified’, IMHO, must be considered to contain GMOs.

          Without a sure means to identify possible GMO contents do you believe that anything less than an outright ban on GMOs worldwide would suffice?

          • I don’t have a ‘position’ on packaging – I am not a lawyer or politician although I have been involved in packaging enough to tell you that what you read on packaging is not necessarily what is in the product. And I don’t just mean that GMOs are not mentioned. Many companies just break the law because they do not want to stop production for shortage of ingredients or scrap packaging that is not right for current food recipes. Personally, I like food that has minimal processing and not too many ingredients in the one item… the way nature made them!
            As regards a ban on GMOs, it is true that modification of genetic code is as old as the hills. However, I don’t think anyone is in a position to state that new GMOs are really bad or really safe. It is too early. In the model of a democracy however, why not put it to a vote? I am pretty sure – short of a well-funded distorting publicity campaign to brainwash people – most individuals would say ‘Sure I want to know what I’m eating’. For those who don’t care… well they can just not read the label.

            BTW – I never seem to receive email notifications although I ask for them. If you see this (or anyone else) please send a line just so I know if the system is working or not.

        • I have noticed that formal writing often gets the bad rap of sounding condescending, as it often employs concise a methodology for delivery ideas. This can often by offensive to someone not familiar with formal writing styles.

          You should also be aware, and if you are, have the courtesy to acknowledge those who think very differently from you

          By virtue of presenting a thought out response to a position he is acknowledging the difference of opinion and presenting his arguments as counter to the ideas expressed. You want him to validate your opinion on simple the basis that you have it, which is not a constructive way to have an argument or discussion.

          You also pay minimal attention to all the corruption that is inherent in the corporate land grab and corruption that is associated with the capitali[z]ation of what was previously a predominantly peasant industry – farming.

          Mr Gibbons does acknowledge the fact that Monsanto and other proponents of Direct Genetic Manipulation have too much power, and our systemic protection of those corporations. Which is something that we should have as a primary concern when asking if we can safely implement the use of GMOs, which is questionable given the vast power these corporations wield.

          Alternatively, one of the purposes of science is to investigate and learn the truth with regard to a give subject. Often people rely on 4th of 5th hand information when trying to understand where science is going with regard to the safety of GMOs. Which can make it difficult to manage the sea of misinformation that abounds surrounding the use of GMOs.

          The safety of the pesticides is also a matter of great contention, especially when taking the current lack of knowledge to bee colony collapse. Their is lot of science seeking to answer that very question, but often very few people have the scientific literacy required to read first rate source material. Often relying on the interpretations of others which can be questionable at best.

          So sorry, I and many more have justified reasons to believe that they are NOT safe. If you pretend certainty on this issue then you need educating.

          It is important to note that the idea you initially started this post to address is ultimately where you ended up. It sounds at the end as if you took offense to Gibbon’s appeal to stop pretending that we have no history of GMO use, retreat to the position that “beliefs” should be respected on the basis of being beliefs in and of themselves and not subject to discussion.

          • Hi Eduardo…

            As regards ‘formal writing’ it is impossible to know what tone befits anyone. This is not a writing contest site. By the way – I am not offended that you changed my ‘capitalisation’ to the BASTARD form used outside of the country where English originated! Get a sense of humour.

            I think you are reading too much into what I wrote. My key position – although maybe not expressed explicitly – was that he is highly selective in what he chooses to consider (to the point of being biased or appearing ignorant) and yet utterly dogmatic on other issues. For example, he also stated ‘We know exactly what would happen if we abandoned GMO lines… ‘ We do? Okay if we scrapped all the GMOs including those evolved over thousand of years of agriculture there would be monstrous problems. Technically he has a point. But for most people today, the GMO issue centres on developments over just the last few decades. In fairness to him, the confusion over what ‘the GMO issue’ is really about is not of his making, but there are many in support of the technologies that are only too keen to exploit such confusion and I smell it here. Interestingly, if we did abandon GMO lines there would be no problems in many parts of the world. Only those areas that have become ‘addicted’ to the technology might – probably would – suffer serious problems. What does that say about them? It’s a bit like saying we cannot manage without fossil fuels which has a ring of truth to it… but only because we foolishly made ourselves dependent on these energy sources that we now know threaten to end life on Earth.

            As regards your comment about my comment on his comment of “So let’s stop pretending we haven’t a clue whether they’re safe” I don’t see what you are on about. The point is that modern GMO technology is not just about what we eat – it is about how that food is procured in the environment and the damage thereby created – both environmentally and socially. He went on to comment about their alleged safety “the evidence strongly suggests they are.” Do dead farmers who committed suicide over the deployment of these GMOs not even count as evidence for Mr Gibbons?

            BTW – I never seem to receive email notifications although I ask for them. If you see this (or anyone else) please send a line just so I know if the system is working or not.

    • ” GMO food is a case, in my opinion, of too far too fast. ”

      As I say everytime this subject comes up ( as I got tired of arguing the subject ) GMO is here and it is here to stay. That is with all the benefits and the overblown harms.

      ( I see that has been said! It still is valid though )

    • There’s a certain irrational fear attached to the opposing side of the debate about what the “effects” of genetic modification will be. It’s one of the most basic forms of human fear, and that’s the fear of the unknown.

      I will agree that there are certain risks down the road, but not ones we didn’t foresee. In several articles I’ve read on the subject it seems that importing certain gene sequences to a new species carries the risk of importing allergies to it as well. I have no doubt that the shared correlations of the rise of allergies in populations and the rise of GMO’s have a connection, however small.

      I’m sure that any problems that arise in the future will not be apocalyptic in nature, and will instead be a great step towards understanding those complex interactions between genes and their environment that we seek. I stress the difference between highly complex and chaotic.

      On a side note, I sometimes wonder if the deep seeded fear of genetic modification has religious roots in people who think that it amounts to “playing god”.

      • Robert Aug 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm

        I ’m sure that any problems that arise in the future will not be apocalyptic in nature,

        Is this some form of “faith” combined with blind optimism, or do you have some basis for this projection? Introducing alien genetic material (from any source), my be harmless, or can on occasions, cause rampant take-overs of ecosystems by invasive species or disease.

        and will instead be a great step towards understanding those complex interactions between genes and their environment that we seek.

        It is sensible to carry out limited and reversible experiments first. Unfortunately ecology is a long time-scale science and commercial developers with a previous reckless track record, are in a hurry for financial returns.

        Bio-hazards are self replicating and once out in the environment usually cannot be re-contained.

        I stress the difference between highly complex and chaotic.

        How would you know this?

        On a side note, I sometimes wonder if the deep seeded fear of genetic modification has religious roots in people who think that it amounts to “playing god”.

        It probably does in some of the New-Age Type greens, and in those given to follow fallacy of appeal to nature.

        Quite separately, there are however, serious concerns from scientists who understand the huge potential damage and risks, from creating invasive species or super weeds – having studied the billions of £ / $ of damage from earlier misguided or accidental introductions of foreign species.

        • Is this some form of “faith” combined with blind optimism, or do you have some basis for this projection? Introducing alien genetic material (from any source), my be harmless, or can on occasions, cause rampant take-overs of ecosystems by invasive species or disease.

          No blind optimism or faith here. Actually, quite far from it. I have yet to see a legitimate claim about a disease or invasive species brought about by genetic modification. Only conspiracy theories, hypotheticals, and bad Sci-fi movies.

          It is sensible to carry out limited and reversible experiments first. Unfortunately ecology is a long time-scale science and commercial developers with a previous reckless track record, are in a hurry for financial returns.

          Bio-hazards are self replicating and once out in the environment usually cannot be re-contained.

          I completely and wholeheartedly agree with that. GMO’s shouldn’t be in the hands of reckless commercial interests. Bio-hazards that are abominations are difficult to contain once introduced into an environment.

          How would you know this?

          Genetics are obviously not chaos. The post I replied to suggested the blind fear that we will never be able to understand chaotic gene relationships. I’m certain that “life” is not held together by chaos. I’m pretty sure there is no “chaos” in the system. Just because something is too complicated for us to understand at the moment doesn’t mean it always will be.

          Quite separately, there are however, serious concerns from scientists who understand the huge potential damage and risks, from creating invasive species or super weeds – having studied the billions of £ / $ of damage from earlier misguided or accidental introductions of foreign species.

          “Super weeds” are a result of overuse of pesticides and herbicides for agriculture. There is no evidence the plants can share their genome with anything but their closest relatives. Several species of crop have been introduced to the market over the years that are modified to be resistant to herbicides to help with production. Bad farming techniques have allowed the rapid evolution of a resistance to the succeeding generations of weeds in the same populations.

          A easier way to explain it is: Farmers think that heavy use of herbicides is ok if the crop can tolerate it, but the weeds they are using the herbicides on are adapting their own independent resistances.

          • Hi Robert

            “Just because something is too complicated for us to understand at the moment doesn’t mean it always will be.”

            That depends on what you mean by ‘understanding’ it. Philosophically, science understands nothing – what it does is classify, categorise, theorise and predict… with no small degree of ‘success’. But what is that success? It has given mankind an unprecedented ability to manipulate his environment but with many downsides which almost without exception were never in the planning and represent a lack of anything that could ever be called understanding. Global warming is the obvious example. It was not predicted when we embraced fossil fuels as a great way to make all sorts of things happen. So by no account did we fully understand fossil fuels when we embraced the technology. GMOs risk being the same.

            This problem stems from the granularity that is inherent in the abstract cognitive models we make of reality. We have to think in ‘bits’ – pretty much analogous to the ‘bits’ of the IT world. The world cannot be approached by our minds as a ‘whole’. At least, we are certainly not able to come up with any technologies down that road. So for expediency alone, we have embraced analytical thinking about our world – together with the inherent need to ‘break things down’ into bits… and then reassemble them into whatever we think is for our benefit. (E.g. chopping down trees for houses).

            But there is no evidence that reality is actually made of these bits. Remember – we adopted them for reasons of expediency – not for understanding. Therefore all analytical thinking – including science – is plausibly based on a fundamentally incorrect model of reality. Reality, as best as the analytical mind and its language can frame it with words, is perhaps ‘utterly interconnected’.

            This is not just armchair philosophy – the more we endeavour to use our minds to engineer our condition into something ‘better’ the more we can now see suggestions that instead of thinking like this:
            “Just because something is too complicated for us to understand at the moment doesn’t mean it always will be.”
            We should maybe be thinking like this:
            “Everything is too complicated to ever be fully understood. Our ‘understanding’ is therefore inherently limited no matter how much we amass it”

            There is the further argument that the more we drill down into granularity, the more we are distracted by other states of mind that might help us access reality without our current reliance on abstract thinking. In the meantime, we should remain wary of the idea that our current ‘understanding’ is a complete form of understanding. It is not and never could be. The more we learn the more we can see how little we know.

        • “Super-weeds” are not a product of genetic modification. They are the result of organisms becoming resistant to herbicide and/or they are whatever varieties of weed which had the fortitude to survive and reproduce. Pesticide resistance is an issue that applies to all of agriculture and is invalid as an anti-gmo argument.

          Every time plants reproduce, their genome is changing. Exactly how concerned are you that non-modified organisms may run rampant through ecosystems? Would you like to start policing the genome of all wildlife? Or perhaps you have fought agriculture for as long as you’ve known about it? After all, growing cucumbers might result in cucumbers taking over ecosystems right? No? Why, because “nature” is some benevolent conscious entity that knows what it’s doing and and never makes mistakes? That it exists in some perfectly balanced state that will collapse in on itself if pandas stop reproducing?

          Worst case scenario…what do you think will happen?

          • Nicholas Aug 4, 2014 at 7:06 am

            “Super-weeds” are not a product of genetic modification. They are the result of organisms becoming resistant to herbicide and/or they are whatever varieties of weed which had the fortitude to survive and reproduce.

            The use of Monsanto Round-up-Ready cereals with engineered herbicide resistant genes, leaking into weed grasses in fields intended to be regularly sprayed with Round-Up herbicide, is the near ideal environment for natural selection to evolve herbicide resistant weeds – which may also have leaked genes for increased growth and hybrid vigour.

            Exactly how concerned are you that non-modified organisms may run rampant through ecosystems? Would you like to start policing the genome of all wildlife?

            https://www.gov.uk/japanese-knotweed-giant-hogweed-and-other-invasive-plants Your legal responsibilities for invasive plants and injurious weeds.

            Importation and distribution of alien species is already policed, but unfortunately not very effectively, so many invasive species are already doing massive ecological damage and costing billions in taking remedial action.

            Or perhaps you have fought agriculture for as long as you’ve known about it? After all, growing cucumbers might result in cucumbers taking over ecosystems right?

            You really have no idea about environmental management do you?

            https://dnr.state.il.us/Stewardship/cd/biocontrol/12Knotweed.html
            Economic damage.

            The costs of the Japanese knotweed invasion in the United Kingdom are likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars per year. The main quantifiable cost is that of herbicidal treatment, which is often quoted in the United Kingdom at around $1.60/m2 for a year of repeated spraying of glyphosate (Hathaway, 1999). This does not include the costs of revegetation after herbicide treatment, which would be much greater. It has been estimated that the presence of Japanese knotweed on a development site adds 10% to the total budget, in order to cover removal and legal disposal of the topsoil contaminated with viable root material (T. Renals, pers. comm.). Further costs include repairs of flood control structures (Beerling, 1991a) and the replacement of cracked paving and asphalt through which the plant has grown. For example, one supermarket in the United Kingdom had to spend more than $600,000 to resurface a new parking lot through which knotweed was growing. As is often the case the social cost is impossible to quantify, but a knotweed invasion can affect regional redevelopment plans and damage the tourism industry through obstruction of roadside vistas and reduced access to rivers.

            Costs in the United States are expected to be comparable. Again, costs include control, usually through application of herbicide, direct damage to structures,

            Super-weeds already exist. It is the risk of creating new ones resistant to herbicide control measures, which is the serious concern!

  2. I’m sad to see he’s making the same mistake as others : just because many genetic modifications may be harmless, that doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly harmless.

    It’s like saying that since most food colorants are safe, that you shouldn’t worry about any food colorants causing allergic reactions.

    Still, my reply remains the same to all GMO enthusiasts : why not label it, so that people who don’t want it, can choose for themselves ?

    • To label GM food would be to assume there is something questionable about it. As far as I understand it, genetic modification is simply a precise way of introducing genetic material into plant DNA with the aim of producing desirable traits into the fully grown plant. If GM food is questionable then so is most foods people buy in the supermarket every day. What is “natural” about anything on our dinner plates now (unless of course if it has been picked wild)? And that includes organic or biodynamic or eco-friendly or whatever else food, too. Food as now consumed by people could not exist unless human beings had spent thousands of years adapting and refining it from the state we found it in nature. If there’s something unhealthy about GM foods then let’s have it! But doubtless the fact that some people will have a “ewww yuck” reaction to a new food technology I wouldn’t count as convincing proof.

      • If there’s something unhealthy about GM foods then let’s have it!

        Please read this link (below) – also as posted elsewhere. This is the ‘unhealthy’ aspect you ask about. Of course some people think that all that matters is what they personally eat without any interest in how it is produced or the geopolitics of exploiting poor countries for its production. There is a great lie around that concern over GMOs is primarily about their suitability as foodstuffs. But the bio-tech industries that promote them link their technologies to widespread use of herbicides that have already been shown to introduce unplanned and detrimental genetic modifications not to mention environmental problems. We’ve had the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic, DDT and ‘safe’ nuclear energy. All technologies tend to be sold on their benefits with the uglier sides either swept under the carpet or only discovered when it’s too late.
        http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/01/fine-print-food-wars

          • Diesele Aug 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

            Can you cite an actual, scientific paper to back your position or are you just going to blog us to death?

            John HH gave a link to an article which while not a reviewed paper, gives a good breakdown on some of the complex issues involving numerous scientific reports.
            Were there some aspects which you do not understand?

            John HH Aug 3, 2014 at 10:30 am
            http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/01/fine-print-food-wars

            There are already serious ecological problems world-wide, from past uses of dangerous herbicides and insecticides which were previously claimed to be safe.

            John HH Aug 3, 2014 at 10:30 am
            We’ve had the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic, DDT and ‘safe’

            Some of the little known research is quite alarming. If human metabolism was unable to break-down DDT as could have been the case, but was unknown at the time of usage, – we would all be dead now!

            nuclear energy. All technologies tend to be sold on their benefits with the uglier sides either swept under the carpet or only discovered when it’s too late.

            Nuclear energy is the big disgrace! WE could have nuclear power generation, without nuclear weapons proliferation, vast long-term nuclear waste problems, or the explosions at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi, IF stupid warmongering politicians in general, – and Ronald Reagan in particular, had not cancelled research into molten salt thorium reactors in favour of light-water uranium reactors, BECAUSE THE URANIUM REACTORS COULD BE USED TO MAKE WEAPONS AND THE THORIUM ONES COULD NOT!

            http://www.nature.com/news/nuclear-energy-radical-reactors-1.11957

            Hopefully modern research will fix the change to thorium reactors which can’t explode or be used to make bombs, before the terrorists get hold of the plutonium.

          • Did you read the link?

            Also, and I don’t mean to sound as insulting as you do – read your post – but can’t your mind get beyond a scientific paper?
            Does academia constitute your universe?

        • Common Dreams?!?

          Ideology has no place in this debate.

          Alan4discussion shows you the proper way to debate this issue. Though we are on opposite sides in this debate at least Alan uses proper sources to back his arguments. Common Dreams is not a proper source.

          • Ideology has no place in this debate.

            Of course ideology is at the very core of this debate. The ideology in question is the making of money, as much as possible and as fast as possible, regardless of anything. George Carlin was spot-on when he talked about the owners: “They want more for themselves and less for everybody else”. In my opinion Monsanto and their ilk are clearly followers of this ideology. And they show psychopatic tendencies in their corporate behaviour.

          • To Neodarwinian

            Vandana Shiva is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. To quote her:

            [She has] studied physics at a post-graduate level and done my doctorate on the foundations of quantum theory, I have spent 40 years studying ecology in India’s farms and forests, with nature and wise peasants as my teachers. This is the basis of my expertise in agroecology and biosafety.

            Your general pot shot at Common Dreams is really pretty cheap.
            Can’t think beyond academia and ‘peer-reviewed’ (sycophantic) PAPERS?

      • harry Aug 3, 2014 at 6:41 am

        To label GM food would be to assume there is something questionable about it.

        Not at all! We have all sorts of obesity and health problems from people eating junk-food and inappropriate diets.

        Proper labelling of foods is essential to make informed decisions on many issues, even if that is inconvenient for manufacturers and marketing organisations who would rather not bother.

        It is notable that the sugar content in bottled drinks in the USA is higher than in some other countries, where consumers’ health is given greater consideration.

      • Why does this labeling imply that there is something wrong with it? We label a lot of products as “Organic” or “Eco”, and that does not seem to imply that there is something wrong with them. The simplest solution would be to label all the GM foods, and let the consumers to make the decision with their wallets. I think that the main problem with GM foods is the lack of choice. By not having a choice on this matter, we could very well be on a slippery slope, where the lack of choice can lead us to products with a very questionable quality, and without any alternatives. Even now, despite the fact that GM crops, in theory, should be controlled and confined to specific areas, many of them have been found hundreds and thousands of miles away, in places, where nobody has ever planted them (for example, via birds). And thus, very slowly we are left without any alternatives.

        I dont wish to say that there is something wrong with GM foods, but at the same time, such foods have been with us for less than 20 years, and the full effects cannot be properly measured in such time. There have also been some studies on rats that link GM foods to obesity, and some studies in Russia (although Russian scientists are good, and probably know what they are doing, their findings may not be accurate due to politics) claim that GM foods cause cancer and obesity. Of course, we can look at the statics for obesity in the US, and find that indeed, in the last 20 there have been a lot more obese people than before, however, we cannot come to conclusion that indeed GM foods should be blamed for that, since the graph has been climbing even before GM.

    • kenny77 Aug 3, 2014 at 5:42 am

      …my reply remains the same to all GMO enthusiasts : why not label it, so that people who don’t want it, can choose for themselves ?

      Ditto to what I already stated here:

      toroid Aug 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm

  3. @OP – Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, perhaps the country’s most famous scientist, has a message for critics of genetically modified foods: “Chill out.”

    Clearly he should stick to astrophysics and leave the biology to the biologists.

    and the European Commission all agree with him on the safety of GMO foods.

    Really?
    That would be because (unlike the US) they have prohibited the ones which are untested!

    The European Union (EU) may have the most stringent GMO regulations in the world.[1] All GMOs, along with irradiated food, are considered “new food” and are subject to extensive, case-by-case, science-based food evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

    SOME GM foods are safe.
    Some Round-Up herbicide and genetically implanted insecticide systems, are highly dubious and potentially ecologically damaging! – Over and above the risks from organic chemical sprays – which in the cases of herbicide resistant crops would be increased.

  4. This whole article is not worth the web page assigned to it…

    Firstly, it is based on an astrophysicist’s comments, stating he ‘may not be a GMO expert’ – well then why bother quoting him more than anyone else? Because he has a cool pose as if he’s in some US detective movie? All that’s missing is the ‘Youbetcha!’ caption to go with the ‘Chill out’ comment. (I thought this site was supposed to be about science).

    Secondly, the main narrative – arguably too short to deserve that description – has some very glib superficial comments from a writer primarily involved in psychology. Some of her previous articles ridicule conspiracy theories about Monsanto – but here she goes on to make a case so lightweight and one-sided as to only encourage suspicions about where her stated ideas are coming from.

    Thirdly the European Commission is stated to agree with Tyson without mention that the EU has the most stringent restrictions on GMOs found anywhere in the world.

    Fourthly, neither writer nor Tyson say a word about the capitalist excesses associated with the US imposing GMOs on foreign countries – often dressed up as foreign aid. That is no laughing matter – thousands of traditional farmers committing suicide. Likewise, not a word on the wider environmental issues such as collapsing biodiversity and the emergence of super-weeds.

    Fifthly, Ms Friedman states that ‘research’ backs Tyson’s ideas. What she actually quotes is really old news and actually not scientific research other than research about other research. The Alessandro Nicolia study she highlights – often claimed to be not funded by the bio-tech industry – is just a review of research from multiple sources and funded by bodies with vested interests… and done in a university! I’d trust people who meet and speak to farming communities anytime over someone with books and a web connection sitting safely inside academia with his profile on LinkedIn.

    To end with we are treated to this, ‘What most people don’t know, but they should, is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food.’ What Tyson apparently does not know but should, is that the current debate is not solely about the foods’ suitability as foodstuffs but about the collaboration of bio-tech, governments and Wall Street to effectively re-colonise much of the world on the back of GMOs pretence of helping them. Some basic ‘research’ or even just common sense would indicate that the farmers in these poorer countries are not committing suicide because they feel they are being helped!

    This sort of rubbish article is a disgrace to any web site, never mind one that is supposedly championing science with an emphasis on evolutionary theory.

    • John HH Aug 3, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Your post is obviously your honest POV. But please discontinue just repeating that POV without answering specific questions about how best to deal with GMOs in the world as it is. Do you believe a revolution is called for, at least in the US?

    • You accuse this article of being a disgrace to this website.

      I challenge that: Your comment is a disgrace and you should provide peer reviewed data that supports your conclusion that GMO produce is harmful to human beings or remove your uninformed opinions from the site.

      You criticize Tyson as ‘not being a GMO expert’. He at least intimately understands the scientific method better than most and I would not be surprised if he were very well read on the subject, as it is endlessly brought up in sources of scientific ignorance and anti-science rhetoric. Given his mission to promote science and informed skepticism, I’m sure he knows more than he lets on.

      Are you a GMO expert? How valid is your opinion and why should any of us care?

      You spout all manner of accusation with nothing to back it up but a couple of blog posts, please tell me how that makes you any different from a climate change denier.

      • Diesele Aug 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

        You accuse this article of being a disgrace to this website.

        I challenge that:

        I agree on that and have explained it earlier.

        You criticize Tyson as ‘not being a GMO expert’. He at least intimately understands the scientific method better than most and I would not be surprised if he were very well read on the subject,

        His glib mistaken comments on Europe suggest otherwise.

        Are you a GMO expert? How valid is your opinion and why should any of us care?

        We could ask you the same question, as you are not raising specific issues from links, or showing understanding of these.

        BTW: I am a biologist and ecologist with some agricultural training, but we use arguments from evidence here, rather than arguments from authority.

      • Reply to Diesele

        You are obviously in the ‘Church of Science’. Have you read the God Delusion?
        You exhibit all the traits… demonising and calling for the removal of ideas that offend you.
        If someone can think outside your ‘method’ they are immediately to be ridiculed.
        You unthinkingly support anyone who is on a ‘mission’ to promote your beliefs.

        Science has its roots in philosophy – but then again religion had some roots in spirituality.
        Science is becoming the replacement religion.

        It’s a big world. I’m just expressing my views and getting a bit emotional about them at points. If you have a problem with that – it is your problem.

        The article is indeed a journalistic disgrace – it is written by one person who is no expert and gives a very short resume of a comment by another who is no expert. That’s called ‘entertainment’ and shouldn’t be passed of as worthy of featuring on a science site. YOU should see that more than I. I’m no expert but I can spot filler articles when I see them.

        If you read my posts you’ll see that I pointed out that the main survey quoted as ‘research’ by the article’s author is not even research… it is a review of research. However, the industry has quoted and re-quoted that as ‘independent research’. It is not even research… it is a review.

        As regards hard evidence, go buy yourself a container of glyphosate, mix it up and spray it over your garden. Do it. Don’t take my word for it. You will realise that it kills everything. That is what it is designed to do. It is integral to modern GMO technologies and often touted as a ‘safer’ weedkiller.
        If you understand anything about biodiversity you will understand that killing everything ‘diminishes’ it. How simple could it be?

        All the arguments for GMOs boil down to money. No doubt some farmers are making big yields in certain situations and making big bucks but that is so short sighted on a planet of collapsing biosphere. The climate change you mention is all the result of runaway science and technology but there is so much money tied up in that form of industry that no one has the guts to admit it. The lie is still being perpetrated that the next miracle will fix things.

        OK you disagree. Just think about it. Or is your career, ego, income, peer group going to compromise that thinking?

    • John HH Aug 3, 2014 at 9:51 am

      This sort of rubbish article is a disgrace to any web site, never mind one that is supposedly championing science with an emphasis on evolutionary theory.

      Hi John,

      I think you misunderstand the nature of discussions here. Posting a topic or article for discussion, does not signify endorsement of it. Articles are put here for critical examination – frequently by people who are well informed on the subjects covered – although they are open to all!

      • Hi Alan…

        Well a few responses do indicate that I got some blood circulating in a few people…

        I’m not sure what you are saying though. Is there supposed to be a set of things that we can say and others that we cannot? Are we supposed to do some self-censorship? I don’t think that’s what you mean if you say it is open to all.

        I suppose I was getting a bit haughty with all my ‘disgrace’ type speak but I would stand by the idea that this is absolute journalistic rubbish. A better approach would be to just start the thread with ‘Let’s hear what everyone thinks about GMOs’.

        I don’t see the point in a site with the strapline ‘Reason. Science. Progress.’ if such unreasoned non-science is featured as a talking point. But if such content is hosted as bait, well I guess I swallowed it! Either way, do you have a problem with what I posted or are you just trying to be helpful? Most people who replied seem to have a REAL problem… like I dared question the Great God Of Science by expressing a verboten phenomenon: opinion.

        • John HH Aug 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

          Hi Alan…

          I’m not sure what you are saying though. Is there supposed to be a set of things that we can say and others that we cannot?

          It is a matter of polite and evidenced rational presentation.

          I would stand by the idea that this is absolute journalistic rubbish.

          You have probably rubbed a few Tyson fans the wrong way. He is usually quite good on science topics.

          My view on this was stated here: https://richarddawkins.net/2014/08/neil-degrasse-tyson-to-gmo-critics-chill-out/#li-comment-150314

          I don’t see the point in a site with the strapline ‘Reason. Science. Progress.’ if such unreasoned non-science is featured as a talking point.

          Reasoning skills include the ability to de-construct and analyse poor arguments. I have seen some woeful articles posted and shredded on this site.

          Either way, do you have a problem with what I posted or are you just trying to be helpful?

          I am simply helping you by explaining how the system works here.

          You will note that I supported your evidence on your link here:- https://richarddawkins.net/2014/08/neil-degrasse-tyson-to-gmo-critics-chill-out/#li-comment-150392

          Most people who replied seem to have a REAL problem…

          I don’t think so. Some have swallowed media propaganda or have not studied the wider aspects of the subject, so have uncritically accepted misleading views.

          like I dared question the Great God Of Science

          Respect for scientific methodology and reviews, is a feature of evidenced reasoning, but the scientists here will come down heavily on poor, biased, or dishonest papers or articles.
          Talk of “gods of science”, usually come from whimsical theologists who don’t understand any science.

          by expressing a verboten phenomenon: opinion.

          No opinions are forbidden, but all are expected to be reasoned and supported by evidence.

          It has also been my experience, that those unable to understand or coherently discuss basic articles or explanations of science, will demand peer-reviewed papers from others, illustrating their own lack of awareness of the basic text-book level of material they have been given, are unable to understand or address, but choose to dispute anyway.

          • Hi Alan,

            Well I should thank you for the very level-headed referee job you have done. As a newbie here I guess I was just shocked at the publish-and-be-damned approach to this article appearing.

            I am no genetic scientist but I highlight the narrowness of scientific viewpoints as has been amplified in my mind looking through this site. So who cares about my problem? Well no one of course but there are reasons why others do not engage with the scientific outlook and I find that the scientific mind often has a rather smug superiority view point that science is about facts whereas people who have ‘opinions’ based on other ways of seeing our condition in this universe are considered just fools for not embracing facts as the be-all-and-end-all of knowledge. Champions of science would do well to understand that.

            In the video Tyson talks about ‘artificial selection’. I am surprised that, as far as I know, no one on this thread has picked up that he is effectively advocating this artificial selection over natural selection… as many others are effectively doing today – the entire bio-tech industry. The path of that artificial selection over thousands of years almost parallels completely the growth of technology and the human race to today’s world where climate change as a result of that growth of technology and the human race threatens life on the planet as we know it.

            If you were a scientist on another planet looking down you might well deduce – with no small amount of evidence – that this artificial selection is just one more brick in a wall of human technology that is about to collapse. We have altered the natural system of the planet beyond its ability to absorb the changes.

            Is science only to be concerned about making things better? Is that part of the ‘religion’ side of it? If someone says it’s time to reflect on what science and technology has caused in the way of problems – is that off limits on this site?
            I’m not really asking these questions directly of you… just throwing them out there.

            Many thanks again for setting me straight about various things.
            … still don’t know why I don’y get notified by email.
            Is there an initiation ceremony that I have failed?!?!?!

          • John HH Aug 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

            I am no genetic scientist but I highlight the narrowness of scientific viewpoints as has been amplified in my mind looking through this site.

            I would have to disagree on scientific outlooks being “narrow”. Science embraces the study of the whole universe. The outlooks of individuals may be narrow but that is a different issue.
            >

            I find that the scientific mind often has a rather smug superiority view point that science is about facts.

            Science is about evidence and reasoning. elimination of personal prejudices and confirmation biases by repeated independent testing. facts are a rare bred, but high probabilities about in scientific laws.

            whereas people who have ‘opinions’ based on other ways of seeing our condition in this universe are considered just fools for not embracing facts as the be-all-and-end-all of knowledge.

            I can see that someone who has worked out some personal opinion may well be intimidated by a scientific view which has been tested and rechecked 10,000 times and is extremely unlikely to be proved wrong.

            Champions of science would do well to understand that.

            Science is not a subject for those who want preconceived notions proved right. It follows the evidence to conclusions whatever they may be.

            In the video Tyson talks about ‘artificial selection’. I am surprised that, as far as I know, no one on this thread has picked up that he is effectively advocating this artificial selection over natural selection.

            The term “artificial selection” is just natural selection as operated by humans. It is simply selecting on different priorities.

            Is science only to be concerned about making things better?

            No! Science is concerned with providing honest information on which realistic judgements can be made.

            Is that part of the ‘religion’ side of it? If someone says it’s time to reflect on what science and technology has caused in the way of problems

            The problems are with the political and commercial applications of this knowledge as it is developed into technologies, by people who may or may not consider moral issues relating to the environment or the interests of other people. The science merely works to provide honest information.

            A stone axe can be used to chop fire-wood or to smash your neighbour’s head. That is the fault of user, not the inventor.

          • Well I wanted to reply to your most recent post but it looks as the blog format hangs up on you when you’ve been on too long – as in the Reply option disappears after so many ping pongs. Well that’s a bummer. Maybe another day – I don’t want to post here as the screen layout is confusing enough. (The big blue quote text format is also too heavy on real estate, don’t you think?)

            Good exchange anyway!

  5. Firstly – Because his ability to connect with and inspire both the scientific communities and non-scientific communities have made him one of the most liked and respected scientists in the world. Also, though Tyson is not an active researcher in the field of bioengineering, that fact does not discredit him from making the argument he presented. Are we not allowed to discuss anything that we didn’t take seven years of classes in?

    Secondly – True the article is a bit silly. But the video clip of Tyson himself is quite good.

    Thirdly – Possibly. No comment.

    Fourthly – GMOs have tremendously helped farmers. Resistance to disease and fungal infections and insect resistance have increased agricultural payloads in countries that are struggling to feed their citizens.

    That is no laughing matter – thousands of traditional farmers committing suicide.

    Could you clarify what you mean by this? Why would traditional farmers be killing themselves by the thousands?

    Fifthly – I agree. The article itself is silly.

    • Katie Aug 3, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Fourthly – GMOs have tremendously helped farmers. Resistance to disease and fungal infections and insect resistance have increased agricultural payloads in countries that are struggling to feed their citizens.

      Unfortunately long term sustainable ecology does not care about agricultural payloads. It works on balancing systems.

      Eliminating insects from large areas of monoculture effectively removes the insects AND the predators which control and feed on them, and the species higher up the food-chain which depend on them for food maintaining a balance in the populations. Greedy humans may seize ALL the resources, but monocultures are simply not sustainable in the long term if soil fungi and animal life are removed. Making plants grow their own insecticide (apart from the potential for bio-poisons to affect humans) may work in wind pollinated species, but if it is used on insect pollinated plants, it will kill pollinators and may further reduce bee populations. Many insects eat wind-blown pollen anyway.
      There is also the issue of genes leaking into weed species, creating super weeds.

      The tobacco industry has already shown us how much big corporations care about human health when profits are involved, while the carbon burners and their political stooges, are demonstrating how little they care about the future of the planet.

      There are lots of unanswered big questions way-beyond some short term increased food production and profits for producers or plant breeders. Unsustainable human population growth and profligate growth in consumption of resources by humans, being only two.

      • Eliminating insects from large areas of monoculture effectively removes the insects AND the predators which control and feed on them, and the species higher up the food-chain which depend on them for food maintaining a balance in the populations.

        I agree that the effects can be unpredictable and the concerns should not be simply brushed away, but I don’t think it’s always so dire as that. For example, the area affected would only be the agricultural fields themselves, not necessarily all of the insect’s niche. Plus, predator-prey relationships can be fluid enough that when a preferred food source is no longer available, secondary food sources can substitute. That said, I do believe that impact studies should be done to help predict likely ecological shifts.

        Making plants grow their own insecticide (apart from the potential for bio-poisons to affect humans) may work in wind pollinated species, but if it is used on insect pollinated plants, it will kill pollinators and may further reduce bee populations. Many insects eat wind-blown pollen anyway.

        But Alan, the insecticides are already in use. What difference if the plants make it themselves? And it’s targeted right where the insecticides are needed too, so there’s no more pouring boatloads of the stuff on fields already saturated with chemicals hoping a bit of it lands where it will do some good.

        The tobacco industry has already shown us how much big corporations care about human health when profits are involved, while the carbon burners and their political stooges, are demonstrating how little they care about the future of the planet.

        I agree with you completely here.

        There are lots of unanswered big questions way-beyond some short term increased food production and profits for producers or plant breeders.

        And here as well.

        • Katie Aug 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm

          Eliminating insects from large areas of monoculture effectively removes the insects AND the predators which control and feed on them, and the species higher up the food-chain which depend on them for food maintaining a balance in the populations.

          I agree that the effects can be unpredictable and the concerns should not be simply brushed away, but I don’t think it’s always so dire as that.

          Many of the the problems are predictable, and some existing ones are quite dire already. In many areas we have lost bird species and pollinating bees are dying all over the place where spraying methods are used. Agricultural workers have been poisoned until chemicals were banned in civilised countries, but the manufactures then continued exporting them to third-world countries which did not bother about injuries to their people.

          For example, the area affected would only be the agricultural fields themselves, not necessarily all of the insect’s niche.

          Soil is a living system which recycles nutrients. It contains animals bacteria and fungi which maintain a healthy system. These break down and live by recycling dead plant material. Long term damage to these will reduce fertility and soils structure. If poisons are soluble, they will also affect rivers, ground-water and water supply. Fields do not operate in isolation. There are already some severe problems with fertiliser run-off!

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fertilizer-runoff-overwhelms-streams/

          Making plants grow their own insecticide (apart from the potential for bio-poisons to affect humans) may work in wind pollinated species, but if it is used on insect pollinated plants, it will kill pollinators and may further reduce bee populations. Many insects eat wind-blown pollen anyway.

          But Alan, the insecticides are already in use. What difference if the plants make it themselves?

          Many people are unaware of the numerous dangerous residues of earlier sprays still contaminating the environment.

          ASSESSING PESTICIDES AS A SOURCE OF DIOXINS
          http://www.dioxin20xx.org/pdfs/2009/09-64.pdf

          Crops are usually sprayed at specific times for short periods at a critical time in the pests life cycle. Other life can occupy the ground for the rest of the time. Including an insecticide in a the plants, means they are toxic at all times. Persistent toxins could be in cereal straw, making it unfit for feeding or bedding animals.

          And it’s targeted right where the insecticides are needed too, so there’s no more pouring boatloads of the stuff on fields already saturated with chemicals hoping a bit of it lands where it will do some good.

          The Monsanto Round-Up-Ready crop system pours on more herbicide than at present, having bred crops which are resistant to the poison.

          There are already vast arrays of agricultural and industrial poisons in the soil and waters!

          http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/Products/AnimalFoodFeeds/Contaminants/ucm050430.htm

          The USA has in the past, been appalling in its casual approach to pollution, with some rivers and coastal areas so poisonous, that it is dangerous to eat more than a minimal quantity of dish caught there. It has improved recently!
          http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Pollutants/Mercury-and-Air-Toxics.aspx

          U.S. government scientists tested fish in 291 streams around the country for mercury contamination. They found mercury in every fish tested, according to the study by the U.S. Department of the Interior. They found mercury even in fish of isolated rural waterways. Twenty five percent of the fish tested had mercury levels above the safety levels determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for people who eat the fish regularly.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_in_fish

          Much of the population is oblivious to the accumulated toxic wastes spread around them, and seem unconcerned that those responsible for misleading the public in the past, are telling them that more of their products are safe.

          • Many of the the problems are predictable, and some existing ones are quite dire already. In many areas we have lost bird species and pollinating bees are dying all over the place where spraying methods are used. Agricultural workers have been poisoned until chemicals were banned in civilised countries, but the manufactures then continued exporting them to third-world countries which did not bother about injuries to their people.

            I agree with these concerns completely. And you make a good point when mentioning that 3rd world countries are seeing the effects even worse than we are.

            Soil is a living system which recycles nutrients. It contains animals bacteria and fungi which maintain a healthy system. These break down and live by recycling dead plant material. Long term damage to these will reduce fertility and soils structure. If poisons are soluble, they will also affect rivers, ground-water and water supply. Fields do not operate in isolation.

            And I’m not disputing this either.

            There are already some severe problems with fertiliser run-off!

            Absolutely. Anthropogenic nutrient loading, and the ensuing hypoxia, is a major issue for fragile coastal ecosystems all around the world. The Gulf of Mexico is particularly affected. And there’s a movement to promote the adoption of more sustainable farming practices and alternatives to inorganic fertilizers (mycorrhizae symbiosis, nitrogen fixing bacteria, ec), but I’m sure you already know about all that since you seem to be knowledgeable on this subject. However, I fail to see how this topic relates to GMOs directly. Though it’s important, and interesting, how does this support your opposition to GMOs?

            Crops are usually sprayed at specific times for short periods at a critical time in the pests life cycle. Other life can occupy …

            That’s a good point that I had not considered. I’ll probably read up on that a bit more.

            The Monsanto Round-Up-Ready crop system pours on more herbicide than at present, having bred crops which are resistant to the poison.

            Also a good point – That sometimes GMOs can lead to increased chemical loads on our ecosystems rather than less.

            The USA has in the past, been appalling in its casual approach to pollution, with some rivers and coastal areas so poisonous, that it is dangerous to eat more than a minimal quantity of dish caught there. It has improved recently!

            I know! Where I’m from the fda suggests you consume no more than one local fish a month due to Hg levels.

          • Alan4discussion Aug 3, 2014 at 6:21 pm

            However, I fail to see how this topic relates to GMOs directly. Though it’s important, and interesting, how does this support your opposition to GMOs?

            I am not opposed to GMOs per se. I am opposed to rushing untested or inadequately tested products into the environment or into the food chains.

            It does not take much foresight to see that reckless commercialism could produce super weeds like this with added herbicide resistance. https://richarddawkins.net/2014/08/neil-degrasse-tyson-to-gmo-critics-chill-out/#li-comment-150484
            Japanese Knot weed spreads vegetatively and is not even seeding! It it still a major and very expensive destroyer of property and usable land, 100 years after its introduction – despite all the efforts at eradication!

            There are world-wide problems with invasive species, while many people are casually oblivious to the risks.

            http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/1999/01/environmental-and-economic-costs-associated-non-indigenous-species

            Invasive species cost the US over $138 billion per year.

            We really don’t need anyone accidentally inventing new ones!

    • Hi Katie,

      For whatever reason I don’t get people replies in email…

      I must have come across way too strong. Tyson and anyone else can say anything they want when they want and how they want in my book. To be honest I had never heard of the guy… don’t have a telly here.
      My problem was with the idea that this was article was worthy of starting a thread. It is not science… more like a tabloid space-filler. You seem to have nailed it – the guy is getting an airing here because he is ‘liked and respected’ for social reasons. How scientific is that? That is media thinking and that’s obviously why he is here.

      As regards the socio-economic issues surrounding GMOs please search ‘farming suicides in india bt cotton’.

      BTW and just for the record: I am not convinced either way as regards the healthiness of GMOs as foodstuffs but I do think GMOs would not be remotely as prevalent in today’s world if there was not a lot of money to be made from them… and that is where the real ugliness of them exists. Science cannot go on forever pretending to be only about knowledge – the whole endeavour is by and large funded directly or indirectly by big business and governments with very different agendas.

      • Hi, John. You make some good points. In response to the farming suicides topic, I read the following article.

        http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-seeds-of-suicide-how-monsanto-destroys-farming/5329947

        I agree that that’s an ugly manifestation of GMO utilization, as a tool for control and exploitation of individuals. However, I see this issue as being a problem fixable with new regulations and laws and not as a problem that should be considered permanently inherent to biotechnology and GMO crops. It appears that the “Terminator Technology” which makes this such a problem has been banned already, so perhaps some good will come from that.

        • Hi Katie,
          Basically, I’d agree that the main problem is not strictly speaking with ‘pure’ science. However, in reality, the human race’s interest in, and funding of, science is primarily by corporations and governments for the procuration of the technologies it can provide to industries – agriculture in this case. And once you frame the issue in the context of governments and multinationals it is hard to see how regulations and laws will sort things. In a better world, yes. But back in the real world, have a read at the history of Monsanto and it becomes obvious that they want to make the laws themselves on the one hand, and they don’t respect laws on the other hand anyway. Monsanto already has a long history that indicates it thinks the laws should suit it rather than farmers or consumers. As for governments, we have just seen Obama do nothing but give a vote of confidence to Brennan head of the CIA and Clapper of the NSA – both caught openly lying to the nation and key government authorities. Think about that. Total impunity as regards lies from top government officials. Please do not think this is all off topic – Obama is the man in charge of America – the country that massively dominates this whole GM game. Do you really have faith in that system? Not all realities fit scientific analysis – but they are no less real.
          Our hopes belong elsewhere.

  6. Even the capitalists have to eat more or less the same food as we workers. They have to breathe the same air and drink the same water. Some of them are more far-sighted than others, but do they all want to shit on their own doorsteps ? Including Monsanto shareholders.

    It seems to me that GM food is safe. Yes plenty of problems involved as Alan4Discussion points out, but, to me, at least, no fear of the “Frankenstein foods” so beloved of the likes of the Daily Wail.

    • No, “capitalists” do not eat the same foods as blue collar workers. The rich have always eaten healthier foods than the poor. In fact, the rich has always gone to great lengths to serve the poor bad quality food while eating better foods. Look at the price of cane sugar versus bleached processed sugar? Look at the price of organic milk versus rBGH milk, fresh organic orange juice vs concentrated juice. Look at the price of fresh vegetables versus canned veggies (per pound and canned pays for liquid that gets drained away). Fresh baked breads versus “enriched” breads. The price will tell you what the rich eat…. unless they have been poor sometime in their lifetime and are new money.

      The rich can afford air filters and water filters too.

      If you think that you say is true, then try buying organic milk for a year. Just a year. You will never go back. Your taste buds won’t allow you.

      If anyone thinks the rich eat the same way that the poor do, then they definitely have been poor within their lifetime. Cause we rich sit around and laugh about it. That’s the way it has been historically for centuries, if not millennia.

  7. That is only one Paradigm of thought, its from a Chemists point of view, not an “All Science” point of view, a Biologist is a scientist, a person who looks at Medical studies and seed the effects of GMO’s consumed by people and also effects of Pesticides used heavily on GMO farmed foods, is also a fact of science. Science is many things, not just from one Paradigm. Facts are GMOs take much higher and heavier doses of Polluting Pesticides, so the poisoning our environment Paradigm is strong, they are leading it! In the Medical paradigm, they are seeing High rising costs of GMO’s and Pesticides, Rising levels of diseases on many fronts since their introduction. Also, there is the compounding Paradigm, not seen in the Chemists labs when they pass the chemicals for use! How many products, and cross contamination of this chemical will occur, once it is out in the market? They can’t possibly know, and they most definitely do not do any tests what so ever for this, let alone long term tests. Monsanto was just sued and lost 93 million to pay to a municipality of people for their poisoning. Thats Fact, and reality of GMO’s Now, on to GMO’s themselves, Corn is liscenced as a pesticide, and carries the poison inside it. Glyphosate is killing the good bacterial flora needed in your body of maintain health and Alkaline environment, (Without leads to human diseases in a multitude) this is also leading to many studies, reports, from the Medical “Paradigm” not the “Chemist’s Scientist pro chemical” paradigm. People see what is within their specific paradigm of thought and scope. Saying a chemically processed Sugar, is the same or acts the same as any Natural sugar, just because it shares the same or similar chemical imprint is actually very paradigm oriented. Facts are, that in the Biological side, not chemical side, and in the medical and the Nutrition Paradigms of reality, we see a dramatic difference in how the body accepts and uses Chemically made/vs/natural sugars. A vitamin A or B, or D, made in a lab, has been shown to only have 70% value to the body compared to its natural counterpart, and also the body may even not recognize it. So, Failure on a mass scale to provide nutrition to a consumer buying this crap!! and they make millions of profit on this engineered non food, and they say its “The same as a natural occurring Vitamin” they claim this, as it is “Technically” the same chemical compound! But!! It doesn’t have the same result! and the result is the whole point!!!! Also, there are NO long term studies on the effects of Genetically Modifying DNA and Swapping in Fish and germ DNA into our foods. There are many studies that are showing that it can change Human DNA, and effect our body ecosystem, as well as the greater earth ecosystem dramatically. Fact is, GMO companies are self regulated, and the government passes these poisons based on the companies recommendations! And these government officials in many cases have left their jobs at these same chemical GMO companies, for jobs in the government that regulate those companies!!! Huge conflict of interest here!!!! HUGE!!! Laws need to be passed, that no person can gain a government position that regulates a company they have worked for! Every court of law works this way!! So should government! Same as how DDT got passed, and now Glyphosate Roundup, that is causing mass issues for human health, and the natural environment.
    Problem is, you science people should be supporting the natural environment, First, this is the body of our world, and the lungs of the earth, the fibres of our being, They should no only support the pocket book of large chemical companies. The world has survived and prospered for millions of years without Chemicals sprayed on foods. Why you think we need it now, is ludicrous. Read about Costa Rica, a country where food literally grows everywhere, and you can eat for about $25 a week. They are listed as one of the healthiest counties in the world, and live the longest. Food grows naturally everywhere, and no, they don’t spray pesticides everywhere, and they don’t need to Genetically modify it for it to grow, be better, taste better, or feed the world. lol Please travel the world people, and eat the food in countries that don’t grow chemical foods. The flavours are incredible. GMO companies don’t talk about flavour of their foods, they don’t promote the Higher Nutrition of their foods either, because they are neither of those. Much lower nutrition, because they are engineering the foods to boost against pesticides, not for better nutrition or flavour. Fact is, food in our groceries is much less tasty than I’ve ever experienced it before. This is profit driven people, not taste, necessity, nutrition or to feed the world. That is what is wrong with GMO’s. LOTS!!!! So don’t support this crap!!!! Look to your own Paradigm, it is not the only point of view, it is the same way one needs to look in a court of law. There is often a Jury, and that Jury filled of people comes from various paradigms of life, and can see an issue from many sides. GMO’s need to be assessed from many angles. Not just from a Chemist’s lab, and chemical content on “Parts Per million”. There is the answer of its compounded effects over time. Ecological effects, Human Genome effects, Medical, Nutrition, and more.

  8. If you look at today’s full ear of corn and compare it to one from a few thousand years ago, you’ll see how ancient farmers crudely modified the genetic code with this crop. GMO has been around for thousands of years. It’s just that our techniques are that much more effective today.

  9. @ Planetary Paul

    How did you get past the reply button?

    ” The ideology in question is the making of money, as much as possible and as fast as possible, regardless of anything. ”

    That’s not an ideology!! That is as real and as greedy as it gets! The issue conflation by you is surely ideological.

    • ” The ideology in question is the making of money, as much as possible and as fast as possible, regardless of anything. ”

      That’s not the ideology. The ideology is Free Market Worship which is similar but it’s about more than just maximizing profit. Some of the dogmas of free market worship: any problem can be solved by the free market and nothing government does (except make war) is ever good. So government regulation is by definition evil. And so nations and organizations like the UN can’t do anything to end world hunger but if we just trust in Monsanto they will make it go away. And so on. It’s as irrational as many religions and more dangerous than most.

  10. A few responses:

    Claire, exchanging one strain for another isn’t a biodiversity reduction, and the gene pool (not genotype) of agricultural species has always expanded due to novel mutations. Indeed, that is crucial to much of our artificial selection. Genes don’t magically become dangerous when we move them manually to another species; they still code for the same proteins. As for your “no, GMOs don’t really boost supplies” nonsense, I’m not going to dignify that with a response until you produce numbers to back it up. If you thik you can quantitatively refute the accolades Norman Borlaug received, be my guest.

    John HH, it’s not about my right to choose; it’s about the fact no-one has shown a GM-free way to feed 7 billion people with existing technology, let alone how many people we’ll have in the coming decades. It is true some nations have partially banned GMOs, but those which ban tested GMOs (the EU doesn’t; I support their demands for testing) are not the kinds of nations that base their policies on science. I admit I didn’t discuss all the ways companies are evil on this issue (although I definitely mentioned the occasional one), but the answer to that is not “stop eating GMOs altogether”. The herbicides issue is indeed relevant to human health, but that’s a reason to regulate herbicides, not GMOs. And I did not express certainty GMOs were safe; I pointed out we have a huge data set and haven’t found anything on which to base continued fears. If it turns up, I’ll acknowledge it.

    John HH, you raise a lot of genuinely important issues, but for the aforementioned reasons it is neither necessary nor prudent to tackle them by targeting GMOs themselves. As for calling this page a “disgrace to any web site, never mind one that is supposedly championing science with an emphasis on evolutionary theory” (which is clearly intended as a description of richarddawkins.net rather than Business Insider), I’d like to remind you, as I’ve reminded many people in the past, that this website reposts material not to endorse it but to enable a discussion of it, and you’re definitely on the critical side of the original. To take a fairly obvious example, countless “religion’s awesome and Richard Dawkins et al suck” op-eds have been reposted on this website over the years. There have also been posts that oppose the consensus on anthropogenic climate change (e.g. Thank you Matt Ridley). I hope you’ll agree this piece about Tyson is a good one to repost if your aim is to stimulate discussion of science topics.

    • Jos Gibbons Aug 4, 2014 at 3:23 am
      >

      it’s about the fact no-one has shown a GM-free way to feed 7 billion people with existing technology, let alone how many people we’ll have in the coming decades.

      Hi Jos,

      I think the question of “if it is even reasonable to try to feed 7 billion humans (and rising), in perpetuity, using ever more risky and environmentally destructive methods“, needs to be addressed.

    • Hi Jos,

      Okay – I am new on this site. I guess the article pushed so many wrong buttons all at once: bad journalism, non-science, one-sided perspective – not what I expected here!
      Just as a much more general comment, however – you seem to be convinced that we absolutely need technology to address our problems. I would argue that technology (plus the population explosion it has enabled) have CAUSED our problems. The situation is not good. I don’t pretend to have answers. But simply believing that yet more technology is going to fix it is counter intuitive on the short analysis I’ve just stated.

      • John HH Aug 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

        Okay – I am new on this site. I guess the article pushed so many wrong
        buttons all at once: bad journalism, non-science, one-sided
        perspective – not what I expected here! Just as a much more general
        comment, however – you seem to be convinced that we absolutely need
        technology to address our problems. I would argue that technology
        (plus the population explosion it has enabled) have CAUSED our
        problems. The situation is not good. I don’t pretend to have answers.
        But simply believing that yet more technology is going to fix it is
        counter intuitive on the short analysis I’ve just stated.

        I don’t believe technology is the cause of “our problems”, but do believe the population explosion since 1950 is a major cause of problems now confronting planet earth.

        If you truly don’t “pretend” to have answers, you do unfortunately quote sources and express opinions that are at best significantly incomplete and at worst result from bigotry.

        • No one would expect many people on this site would want to give technology a ‘bad rap’ but read what you wrote. It is unreasoned (knee-jerk?) belief that you express as regards the cause of our problems. No arguments. I’ve at least put forward the argument (elsewhere) that a remote scientist looking down on planet Earth would certainly spot the correlation of technological growth, population growth and degradation of the biosphere. It’s no great leap of mind to see that ‘improving’ the human condition through technology has allowed more of us to breed, creating more of a demand for more technology – a process very apparent on this very thread by the many pleas to use technology (GMOs) to address our problems.

          The problem with the ‘religiously’ scientific mind is that it does just what you do – insists on sources, scientific papers, peer-reviewed studies etc. – falling back on the argument that if these are not provided as back up, well anyone can just say anything. That argument is absolutely valid even to the point that even if these things ARE provided… well anyone can still just say anything. What the argument actually is, is the scientific mind declaring that it will not accept anything without such ‘proofs’. But this reduces the mind’s ability to think intuitively and on a broad band level with common ‘sense’. Supposing you see a burst pipe in your kitchen spurting water in all directions – you don’t insist on ‘sources’ for confirmation before calling the plumber.

          Obviously, there are no ‘scientific papers’ or ‘double-blind’ tests or anything else from scientists on other planets to ‘prove’ what happens when intelligent life gets ever-increasing access to technology. The idea is just theory based on observation and facts of history. But does the fact that a truly scientific test is impossible to carry out mean that its postulated finding is therefore false? Of course not. Neither does it prove it, though Einstein did much of his work on ‘thought experiments’ by necessity. They don’t prove anything by the famed ‘scientific method’, so would you have not listened to Einstein on the basis that he had no proof or sources? Meanwhile your stated case in your reply does not even provide a theory – just ‘belief’.

          Of course my argument – any argument – is incomplete and open to all sorts of criticisms. That’s what blogging is. One mind engaging with others to express its tiny perspective. My tone on my first post was too strident as I say but I suggest you focus more on evidence (history in this case) than on sources. Even history is widely distorted in many respects by ‘sources’ that want to rewrite it but the basics of mankind’s expansion of technology and population are pretty obvious. Do you really think we could have reached 7 billion without technology?

          • John HH Aug 5, 2014 at 1:34 am

            No one would expect many people on this site would want to give
            technology a ‘bad rap’ but read what you wrote. It is unreasoned
            (knee-jerk?) belief that you express as regards the cause of our
            problems. No arguments. I’ve at least put forward the argument
            (elsewhere) that a remote scientist looking down on planet Earth would
            certainly spot the correlation of technological growth, population
            growth and degradation of the biosphere. It’s no great leap of mind to
            see that ‘improving’ the human condition through technology has
            allowed more of us to breed, creating more of a demand for more
            technology – a process very apparent on this very thread by the many
            pleas to use technology (GMOs) to address our problems.

            The problem with the ‘religiously’ scientific mind is that it
            does…(not)…think intuitively and on a broad band level with common
            sense’…your stated case in your reply does not even provide a theory
            – just ‘belief’.

            Of course my argument – any argument – is incomplete and open to all sorts of criticisms. That’s what blogging is. One mind engaging with
            others to express its tiny perspective. My tone on my first post was
            too strident as I say but I suggest you focus more on evidence
            (history in this case) than on sources. Even history is widely
            distorted in many respects by ‘sources’ that want to rewrite it but
            the basics of mankind’s expansion of technology and population are
            pretty obvious. Do you really think we could have reached 7 billion
            without technology?

            You present a decent rebuttal, especially considering the tone of your admittedly strident ‘first post’ (actually, several posts no? BTW, AFAIK, the ‘email notifications’ function doesn’t work.)

            The point I’m attempting to make regarding labelling is that simplistic labelling such as called by commondreams.org and others is intrinsically misleading and panders to ignorant undiscriminating idealism of ‘true believers’ and unthinking followers. Even USDA’s Certified Organic isn’t definitive and it’s the best labelling that currently exists. You call for a vote, but if that vote is about labelling processed foods ‘GMO, yes or no’ it’s crap at best! All processed foods may contain GMOs now. The trail of manure has already left the barn. Your ‘solution’ is worse than the problem because it fosters belief that the problem is being solved when it’s not.

            (I see other posts of yours farther down the thread, so will reply to them individually. I try to keep posts relatively short to foster readability.)

  11. Moderators’ message

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    Users are welcome to argue, but please keep it civil and please focus on making the positive case for your own position and/or pointing out the weaknesses in the other person’s position. Crucially, please do this WITHOUT being rude to or about the users who disagree with you. The case for or against GMOs is not either strengthened or weakened by any fault you may personally find in the character or attitudes of people who disagree with you.

    So please: argue your case as much as you like, and on whichever side you like, but please try to explain and persuade rather than vent anger and hostility against users who see things differently.

    Thank you.

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  12. I agree with Prof. Tyson that there isn’t a lot of evidence about the harm of GMOs but the argument that “we’ve been modifying crops for centuries” is BS. Sure we’ve been modifying crops via breeding for centuries but that is an order of magnitude different than what we do in the lab with GMO foods. With GMO you can create a new genome in a day that could take centuries or longer or might never even be possible by standard breeding methods. And once you create a new genome and use it in the world it may be impossible to remove it.

    IMO it’s not a question of if we ever should use GMOs but should we show extra caution, in fact should we err on the side of caution first or should we just let large corporations do what they always do: rush in with no thought to potential harm and let the people of the world pick up the tab for cleaning up any mess?

    And while I agree that a lot of the GMO concerns are hyperbolic and not well grounded in science I think the same can be said for many GMO proponents. Especially the claims that GMOs can feed the world when most of the evidence I’ve seen shows that the first goal of companies like Monsanto isn’t to feed the world it’s to make more money for Monsanto (e.g. by creating GMO crops that can stand huge amounts of Monsanto pesticides).

    Here is one of the first well documented studies I’ve seen that shows some clear evidence of GMO harm:

    http://www.alternet.org/food/major-study-demonstrates-monsanto-gmo-corn-product-can-cause-damage-liver-and-kidneys-and

    What is most disturbing about that story though isn’t the harm from the GMO but the shit storm that the scientists who did the research received from the world for venturing evidence of actual GMO harm. BTW, this is the kind of thing I would expect Dawkins and Tyson to also be concerned over, pressure on scientists for political reasons. Perhaps Richard could stop tweeting for a while and read and comment on the above article?

  13. Alan4discussion raises the question of whether we should “try to feed 7 billion humans (and rising), in perpetuity, using ever more risky and environmentally destructive methods”. It’s certainly true that we cannot exponentially grow our population forever. But if and when the time comes to stop meeting the food requirements for the existing population to survive and grow, and in particular if this is true because what it takes to continue is dangerous to human health, (a) this means difficult decisions have to be made about who to sacrifice and (b) there should be plentiful evidence that we have now reached that point. And I don’t think the current GM situation is remotely close to being a good enough example of (b) to justify a contemporary push for (a). Indeed, there doesn’t appear to be much evidence as per (b) at all, at least when it comes to the effects of gene splicing in food on human health. The human population is expected to peak, if only temporarily, at 11 billion or less by 2100. It’s quite possible that GM agriculture will get us through this (at least if we deal with climate change properly).

    John HH, two things. Firstly, my position is not that we can be confident technologies such as GMO will indefinitely serve our growing needs, but that it is an empirical fact that GMOs have already become a necessity of meeting our current needs. Secondly, I’d like to discuss your quality concerns. If you look at the archives of this site you’ll see that the quality comes not in what it reposts, which is often dreadful, but in how effectively flaws are eviscerated in comments. After all, this site mostly reposts material; if it only reposted that which was well-written, it would be mostly one-sided on many of its most central issues. Most if not all the pro-religious pieces would go, for starters.

    One way I’ve heard it phrased is that GMOs have not been implicated in so much as a single human stomach-ache. Maybe that will eventually change, but it takes a lot more than one research study to do that. I should probably address Red Dog’s discussion of a study suggesting kidney and liver problems due to a strain of maize and/or a herbicide used on it. Apparently the maize has these effects even in the absence of the herbicide (although I’d love to know what mechanism explains this). The findings’ meanings are not as clear as they may at first seem. It is a single study (i.e. its findings are as yet unreplicated) of effects on rats (not humans) of one very specific maize strain. This justifies further study to ascertain, for example, which GMO strains have which medical side-effects (if any) on humans, their pets, their livestock etc. (Of course, many such studies have happened in the past and the results have always been negative, and statistical effects only imply a false positive should happen eventually, which is why we demand replicability.) It does not, however, constitute evidence that yet justifies opposition to any specific GMO strains being used for human food, with the possible exception of this particular maize strain.

    • Jos Gibbons Aug 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Alan4discussion raises the question of whether we should “try to feed
      7 billion humans (and rising), in perpetuity, using ever more risky
      and environmentally destructive methods”. It’s certainly true that we
      cannot exponentially grow our population forever. But if and when the
      time comes to stop meeting the food requirements for the existing
      population to survive and grow, and in particular if this is true
      because what it takes to continue is dangerous to human health, (a)
      this means difficult decisions have to be made about who to sacrifice
      and (b) there should be plentiful evidence that we have now reached
      that point. And I don’t think the current GM situation is remotely
      close to being a good enough example of (b) to justify a contemporary
      push for (a). Indeed, there doesn’t appear to be much evidence as per
      (b) at all, at least when it comes to the effects of gene splicing in
      food on human health. The human population is expected to peak, if
      only temporarily, at 11 billion or less by 2100. It’s quite possible
      that GM agriculture will get us through this (at least if we deal with
      climate change properly).

      Actually, doing absolutely nothing will result in a significant reduction of the planet’s human population, just not in a way that most rational people find acceptable. So ‘rational people’ will fight amongst themselves for their preferred methods of dealing with and hopefully ameliorating the effects that ‘mutha’ nature probably has in store for the planet over the next century or two.

      • toroid Aug 4, 2014 at 11:23 pm

        Actually, doing absolutely nothing will result in a significant reduction of the planet’s human population,

        Doing nothing of significance to stop burning carbon, will have a similar effect, as deserts expand, tropical diseases migrate towards the poles, oceans acidify, and productive agricultural coastal and estuary flood-plains, disappear under rising seas.

      • Hi toroid,
        It’s not brilliant, this blog format. I have to reply to your post to Jos as it limits the number of exchanges allowed. Plus you say the email notification does not work. The profile tools are certainly not intuitive – I’d say they are broken. So much for technology!

        CommonDreams definitely has a flavour about the site but it is not an advocacy site. It is a non-commercial news site, minus what they refer to as ‘infotainment’ (celebrity gossip, sexual titillation, sports and shock-horror drama stories). I too am not ‘for’ a vote. I threw the idea in just to highlight that the big GM companies do themselves no favours by actively campaigning against labelling. As you say, labelling is a nightmare issue. GMs are indeed in just about everything.
        So many of these issues resolve to the fact that the public won’t make the effort to understand the issues in any depth… even if that sounds a bit snooty!

  14. Hi Jos,

    As regards eating them, the jury ought to be out on on what could be called ‘new’ GMOs – the degree to which the code can be modified, unless I am much mistaken, is into a new level since bio-tech took over from ‘manual’ GM.

    When you state that “GMOs have already become a necessity of meeting our current needs” I think that is extremely controversial and very hard to prove/disprove… as is almost anything in this department! Clearly Monsanto are trying to influence thinking with monstrous spends and governments effectively in their pocket. When their own web site has to deny some of the scandals, I take that as a case of no smoke without fire. That’s not science okay – but science is no use when the messenger is a known and proven liar with a very shady history. BTW I don’t deny that some of the anti-GMO hysteria is also unbalanced.

    As regards your information about the site – thanks – I’m learning fast!

    If you care to search there is ‘evidence’ (true or false?) that GMOs and the technology in general is worse than not healthy – and there is also evidence that the truth is deliberately and systematically suppressed. Try here:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/study-linking-genetically-modified-corn-to-cancer/

    • John HH Aug 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      …about the site – thanks – I’m learning fast!

      You may have more to learn, however. You didn’t reply to a question I asked you yesterday at 2:57 pm about your POV:

      “Your post is obviously your honest POV. But please discontinue just repeating that POV without answering specific questions about how best to deal with GMOs in the world as it is. Do you believe a revolution is called for, at least in the US?”

      • As mentioned I am not receiving email notifications but hope to get that fixed if a reply comes from the RDF Contact link.

        But I did see your post and just got busy answering others.

        The opinions I expressed about GMOs are based on both some unanswered scientific questions and, more importantly, their role, as I see it, in geopolitical economics in which GMOs are heavily ‘pushed’ for commercial gain – with real indifference to their impact ‘on the ground’ as it were.
        The tragic situation with Indian farmers is just one case in hand.

        You ask me how best to deal with GMOs and if I think a revolution is called for (in the US or elsewhere). These feel like political questions that are fairly remote to my statements of our current situation.

        It seems that the complicity of government, ‘big ag’ and Wall St. is pretty tight and would, by most people’s standards be described as ‘corrupt’. That is not good for science or the public at large for all sorts of obvious reasons. Do I know how to deal with that? Of course not. Do you? Does anyone? We live in a world of corruption at very high levels. Probably most people would alter that if they could. No one has a magic bullet. But stating the case is always relevant as it reminds us all that they should not imagine that the powers that be can be trusted to act in their interests. I suppose it is rightly called ‘dissent’ and is based on the idea that if we call out corruption where it is seen it will help to keep it in check.

        There are 7 billion of us on the planet. Do you not think it a bit silly to ask anyone how best to do anything about global problems other than how to conduct their own life? And who really wants to listen to someone else answer that question?

        As regards revolution, if you mean throwing bricks and torching government buildings, no, I do not advocate that. If you mean a revolution of the mind… that is absolutely what we need.

        • John HH Aug 5, 2014 at 2:05 am

          As mentioned I am not receiving email notifications but hope to get
          that fixed if a reply comes from the RDF Contact link.

          But I did see your post and just got busy answering others.

          The opinions I expressed about GMOs are based on both some unanswered
          scientific questions and, more importantly, their role, as I see it,
          in geopolitical economics in which GMOs are heavily ‘pushed’ for
          commercial gain – with real indifference to their impact ‘on the
          ground’ as it were. The tragic situation with Indian farmers is just
          one case in hand.

          You ask me how best to deal with GMOs and if I think a revolution is
          called for (in the US or elsewhere). These feel like political
          questions that are fairly remote to my statements of our current
          situation.

          It seems that the complicity of government, ‘big ag’ and Wall St. is
          pretty tight and would, by most people’s standards be described as
          ‘corrupt’. That is not good for science or the public at large for all
          sorts of obvious reasons. Do I know how to deal with that? Of course
          not. Do you? Does anyone? We live in a world of corruption at very
          high levels. Probably most people would alter that if they could. No
          one has a magic bullet. But stating the case is always relevant as it
          reminds us all that they should not imagine that the powers that be
          can be trusted to act in their interests. I suppose it is rightly
          called ‘dissent’ and is based on the idea that if we call out
          corruption where it is seen it will help to keep it in check.

          There are 7 billion of us on the planet. Do you not think it a bit
          silly to ask anyone how best to do anything about global problems
          other than how to conduct their own life? And who really wants to
          listen to someone else answer that question?

          As regards revolution, if you mean throwing bricks and torching
          government buildings, no, I do not advocate that. If you mean a
          revolution of the mind… that is absolutely what we need.

          I’ve got a system that works regarding how I conduct my own life. Most people, IMHO, do, although most, again IMHO, don’t think about it explicitly.

          Wouldn’t a ‘revolution of the mind’ take much more time than exists to deal with the climate related problems confronting planet earth?

          A significant part of ‘stating the case’ is presenting information persuasively. Relying on sources that are obviously bigoted and strident are, IMHO, counterproductive.

          Here are two sources of population information. IMHO, one is far more likely to provide unbiased info than the other, at least with regard to perception.

          http://www.geohive.com/contact.aspx

          http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer

          I’m similiarly skeptical of

          http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/01/fine-print-food-wars

          • toroid Aug 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

            Here are two sources of population information. IMHO, one is far more likely to provide unbiased info than the other, at least with regard to perception.

            http://www.geohive.com/contact.aspx

            http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer

            The first link, appears to provide lots of raw data. the latter, a digest of various world problems, along with a few illustrative examples which show understanding of the problems and readable explanations.

            It’s a bit like comparing apples with kippers!

            In suggesting “bias”, the relevant question is, “Are the statements reporting correctly?”

            Talking of kippers, I see the red-herring of the flawed “(GM) maize causes serious disease in rats,” has surfaced again, with the green-chorus-line quoting it against GM in general , and the industry propagandists quoting it back as the negative proof fallacy which provides a distraction from the real concerns they want kept off the agenda.

          • The concept of a revolution of the mind includes the idea that it takes no time. There is no process, no achievement, no arrival, no method, no lessons etc. We’re a bit off topic – GMOs! – but you did ask. If interested, here’s the best reference I can find online:
            http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=23&chid=56981&w=observing

            Strident – I am guilty – as you politely do not accuse me! Bigoted, biased, prejudiced – these are more subjective judgements. No one sees themselves as these things – it is always someone else. So it’s just opinion to say this or that source is bigoted.

            As regards the importance of persuasion, obviously this matters to get support but it is based on something between deception and taking advantage of other’s gullibility. Politicians do it all the time. Honesty and integrity are casualties. All that is important is to win opinions over. That’s no model for anyone other than those who seek power without helping others. If you feel more informed, wiser or whatever than others, you should encourage their understanding – not just their allegiance… IMHO.

            Population sites… I’m not sure of your point. There are a lot of us! Interesting to see the bulge in reproduction in Africa, though.

            I read the CommonDreams page again. We all only have links and sadly there are loads of lies and distortions all over the web. I can’t see any reason to doubt the content of that page other than that it is obvious flag-waving for a cause. But in deciphering what seems more/less credible, I try to think behind the possible motives as regards why the content has been posted. Money buys, sells and profits from lies! More specifically, is there a lot of gain for someone or some business or government in telling a biased version of reality? Curiously, this site – RDF – is the only site that comes to mind where there is personal promotion AND online shopping AND a donation opportunity. (Only one of those three is found on ‘Common Dreams’. What a stupid title though!).

    • Hello John,
      The link you posted states the following:

      Bowing to scientists’ near-universal scorn, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology today fulfilled its threat to retract a controversial paper claiming that a genetically modified (GM) maize causes serious disease in rats, after the authors refused to withdraw it.

      and concludes with:

      The paper’s retraction was the latest in a series of setbacks for Séralini and his group. The publication of his team’s study was greeted by a storm of protest from scientists, and both the EFSA and Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment In Berlin slammed the paper for providing inadequate data to support its conclusions.

      In what way does the retraction of this paper constitute deliberate and systematic suppression of ‘the truth’?

      • Wow. It takes a lot of keeping up with replies on this forum – especially as the email facility does not seem to work and so you have to hunt down comments manually. It’s so user-unfriendly once threads get long that I’m inclined to abandon it.

        Anyway, as regards your question. Wherever I wrote ‘deliberate and systematic suppression of ‘the truth’ ‘ I don’t think I would have been referring solely to one paper. Probably, that would have been more directed to the ‘big ag’ propaganda machine in general and as exemplified by Monsanto. Just search ‘Monsanto lies’ at a time of day when you have nothing immediate planned! As regards that specific paper, there is ‘suggestive evidence’ that the retraction of that paper was Monsanto initiated. When reading that ‘a storm of protest from scientists’ happened, please suspend judgement in as much as most of those protests were no doubt in writing so it could have been a fabrication. Where are the names of those scientists? Monsanto has a lot of interests is contorting the public debate. The web is full of lies and, although I obviously know no more of the facts of that than anyone else regarding what is reported, prudence says you should at least suspend judgement when reading about such explosive topics.

        This might sound off topic but we now know that GCHQ had – probably still has – a program to mass email and distort online surveys in amongst a number of other nefarious high-tech tools. Search ‘JTRIG GCHQ’ if you want. Whatever our politicians might tell us about the ‘war on terrorism’ as justification for GCHQ and NSA’s hi-tech toys, these tools were obviously not all developed to take out terrorists! We also know that NSA spied on internal EU debates over trading agreements and bugged Angela Merkel’s mobile. Hardly about terrorism again! Where there are motives to do such things, their are agendas. We also know Monsanto has some friends in very high places and has a very clear agenda…

        • Hello John,
          With all that is going on I too missed your reply. With regard to your comment below:

          Wherever I wrote ‘deliberate and systematic suppression of ‘the truth’ ‘ I don’t think I would have been referring solely to one paper. Probably, that would have been more directed to the ‘big ag’ propaganda machine in general..

          Please go back and read your previous post a little further up in this thread where you make the following statement which quite clearly and unequivocally refers solely to one paper:

          If you care to search there is ‘evidence’ (true or false?) that GMOs and the technology in general is worse than not healthy – and there is also evidence that the truth is deliberately and systematically suppressed. Try here:
          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/study-linking-genetically-modified-corn-to-cancer/

          The paper in question was widely condemned as methodologically flawed by scientists and associated governmental bodies alike and retracted by the publisher of the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, as is stated in your link.

          When reading that ‘a storm of protest from scientists’ happened, please suspend judgement in as much as most of those protests were no doubt in writing so it could have been a fabrication. Where are the names of those scientists?.

          Most of the key and influential protests certainly were in writing – but in what way does a written protest that enables a formal, published paper trail constitute a high risk of fabrication? The beauty of the scientific method, peer review process, scientific publication and formal rebuttal process is that, should you want to, you can follow the paper trail right back to the source to double check all of your conclusions and facts. I suggest you go to a library and look up the following reference: Food and Chemical Toxicology, 53 (1), pp. 440-483, where the relevant letters of complaint to the editor and responses from the author are published for all to see.

          As regards that specific paper, there is ‘suggestive evidence’ that the retraction of that paper was Monsanto initiated.

          ‘Suggestive evidence’ does not constitute fact.

          This might sound off topic but we now know that GCHQ had – probably still has – a program to mass email and distort online surveys in amongst a number of other nefarious high-tech tools. Search ‘JTRIG GCHQ’ if you want. Whatever our politicians might tell us about the ‘war on terrorism’ as justification for GCHQ and NSA’s hi-tech toys, these tools were obviously not all developed to take out terrorists!

          I don’t wish to appear rude but what on earth does this have to do with your claim that the retraction of a demonstrably flawed paper constituted deliberate and systematic suppression of ‘the truth’ that was the subject of my initial question to you? Resorting to unrelated conspiracy theories to back up your claims really does weaken your position somewhat, at least in terms of credibility, and places your argument dangerously close to the same shaky ground that underpins the anti-vaxxer brigade.

          • I have no interest in picking through the exact details of previous posts as that often leads to a ‘you said – not I didn’t’ type waste of life. I’d rather apologise if I gave the wrong impression of my thoughts. The link I posted was just an example of some of the things I mentioned. It was not intended to close a case.

            Reading the way you have cut bits from my posts I’ll happily admit that you make the writer sound like some sort of paranoid crank! However, I do consider that practical science is more or less corrupted by money in a way that we also see in sport, art and other walks of life and it means that what is in the public domain has to be viewed with suspicion.

            Okay, this is a huge (too big for here) discussion but to cut to the chase, modern science is expensive and so it is increasingly funded by enterprises that have vested interests in profits from technology rather than scientific objectivity. Many practising scientists simply do not want to see this. That’s no surprise in a culture which has given them the expectancy of a lucrative career. However – and I am no legal expert – my understanding of US law is that there is no obligation on corporate-funded research to be made public. What that in effect means is that if, for example, 9 studies indicate that a new drug could cause cancer but a 10th one suggests not, the drug company can legally publish the one that suits it and bury the rest. That is the law – and I think it is pretty much the same with GM. And of course any whistle-blowing scientists in this scenario face legal sanctions.

            Unless by some magical who-knows-what all the suppressed studies are scientifically flawed but those that the funders release are not, the whole charade is NOT SCIENCE. It is playing at science to find the results that suit business interests and sweeping any contradictory evidence under the carpet. But this is the legal system that is in place and we do not hear scientists objecting to it. Arguably, that makes them as disingenuous as the pedophiles in the Roman Catholic church. They are exposed to the corruption of what they preach but say nothing. The system is rigged – legally at government level – such that scientific objectivity can be twisted. You cannot follow the ‘beauty’ of the scientific method you mention as regards much science because the corporate has a legal right to see that it is destroyed… and of course they do where it suits them. Hence the ‘science’ in the public domain is not objective.

            With some research you will find that there are various revolving doors between major corporations (of all sectors) and key regulatory bodies in the States. So the instance mentioned is just one example among a general trend for governments to be effectively populated and heavily lobbied by operations like Monsanto. (BTW you did not comment on the involvement of the ex-Monsanto employee connected with the retraction of that paper – although again, that ‘proves’ nothing). On the wider front, there is obvious serious complicity and conflicts of interests that are effectively endorsed by the system.

            Your post seems fixated on specific details of what I posted as if I was piecing things together into, as you suggest, a conspiracy theory – mostly about one paper. From your approach I can see why you do that. Whether you agree with me or not, to understand where I am coming from, I am making general comments about the delivery of content through the media and into the public domain as regards a generalised corruption of that information orchestrated all the way up to the top of government in collusion with big business. Details in that area about one specific study or reactions to it quickly become so controversial that we ought to suspend judgement. Besides scientists can agree and all be wrong.

            To close (at last, you’ll say!), the problem with the overly scientific mind is that it has a sort of insistence that nothing can be accepted without proof. Generalisation are not allowed. But unless you think that governments and corporations are above any form of corruption, the argument is that the corruption involved is funding a lot of science that is buried or distorted for profit reasons. Truth is a casualty. Almost no one knows the exact details of how this happens in any particular cases, there are no peer-reviewed documents or lab experiments to ‘prove’ this – it is a generalised perspective established by looking at the full breadth of society. But it is reasonable to deduce that the resultant bias will present new technologies in an artificially rosy light. Don’t underestimate common sense. It can complement science in that gives you an important ‘feel’ for how things work in this world. Without it, you bodily functions wouldn’t even function!

          • Hello John,

            However – and I am no legal expert – my understanding of US law is that there is no obligation on corporate-funded research to be made public.

            And nor should there be. Why should a company have to allow access to all of its in-house research? Can you imagine Apple allowing open access to the research and development of its latest iwhatever?

            What that in effect means is that if, for example, 9 studies indicate that a new drug could cause cancer but a 10th one suggests not, the drug company can legally publish the one that suits it and bury the rest.

            No it doesn’t – at least not in the sense of getting the drug approved for use – this is a simple assertion made in the absence of any detailed understanding of the regulations and processes involved in a pharmaceutical company successfully developing a drug and attaining approval for it. For example, for a drug to be approved in the UK it has to go through an authorised and controlled human clinical trial process after initial successful laboratory development and testing. If these tightly regulated and controlled clinical trials show that the negative effects of the drug outweigh the benefits – the drug will fail the approval process and will not be licensed for use. Does it not cross your mind to wonder, if the medical research system is so corrupt, why such a limited proportion of drugs in the early stages of development actually successfully make it through to the human clinical trials stage, let alone gain approval and licensing for use?

            Unless by some magical who-knows-what all the suppressed studies are scientifically flawed but those that the funders release are not, the whole charade is NOT SCIENCE. It is playing at science to find the results that suit business interests and sweeping any contradictory evidence under the carpet.

            Again it might be advisable to gain a thorough understanding of the procedures and regulations that are enforced by law and convention and followed by scientists in any particular field before you write off ‘the whole charade’ in such a casual manner. So much of what you have written in this post is simply baseless assertion rather than backed up by any hard fact or detailed understanding of the subject matter. Nobody would argue that any system is immune from corruption or abuse, we are all humans after all, even scientists. But to suggest that the entire scope of research-based medical science is a ‘charade’ is, at the very least, misguided and ill informed.

            To close (at last, you’ll say!), the problem with the overly scientific mind is that it has a sort of insistence that nothing can be accepted without proof.

            Personally, I don’t see the demand for proof to be a problem, particularly when it comes to ascertaining what is most likely to be true or not. There is a good reason after all why we look for proof beyond doubt in the court of law, and try, as far as possible, to steer clear of how we ‘feel’ about how things in the world work.

  15. A lot of posters here seem concerned enough about GMOs to seriously consider an option in which they are avoided to the detriment of billions of starving human beings. A comment by toroid puts it quite succinctly:

    Actually, doing absolutely nothing will result in a significant reduction of the planet’s human population, just not in a way that most rational people find acceptable.

    I might – might – be willing to discuss such an option, if there were any real evidence GMOs are dangerous in humans. But I’d like to see people present that first. Since it’d be the basis for widespread famine as a policy, it had better be a lot better than a couple of dubious mice studies, against the context of countless studies finding no such thing.

    John HH wants me to concede GMOs cause such harm as suggested in a study he links to, in an article which… acknowledges that study was retracted due to methodological problems. If this is the stuff of which the case that GMOs (as opposed to attached herbicides) are medically dangerous to humans is made, consider me unimpressed. In that same comment, Monsanto’s influence on thinking is discussed. Let me be clear: I do not listen to what Monsanto has to say. If you want to understand why GMOs impress me, look up Norman Borlaug.

    In a later comment the same poster says,

    The opinions I expressed about GMOs are based on both some unanswered scientific questions

    I’d like to see these questions listed. Often, when people claim to base their position on the fact certain questions are unanswered, it turns out they are in fact answered. (Such a practice is a bad idea anyway, since ignorance alone doesn’t teach us anything specific.) But if we saw these questions, maybe we’d find out this isn’t one of those times.

  16. Billions are not starving. Many many are hungry but that is a different thing. More importantly,”the world produces enough to feed the entire global population of 7 billion people”. (http://www.wfp.org/hunger/causes) (Your idea that stepping back from GMOs would cause ‘widespread famine’ is therefore without grounds).

    The study I mentioned was only retracted after legal measures with a strong suggestion Monsanto were clandestinely behind it all. Both publishers and author stood behind it – the publisher believably finding an ‘excuse’ for the withdrawal to save their face. 200 mice is actually not a bad size sample. And I don’t want you to ‘concede’ anything. I’m not your Dad.

    Norman Borlaug – new to me – sure looks like a guy who ‘knew his onions’ (on a scan read). Interestingly, though, I searched for ‘pesticide’ and ‘herbicide’ on his Wikipedia page and they only came up in criticisms of technologies that were not directly attributed to him. His main influence seems to go back a few decades and I did not see him advocating much at all in the way of chemicals… so is his work, however great, really relevant to GMOs of today – including their extensive use of chemistry?

    Unanswered questions…
    As I understand it, many tests in the US are not legally obliged to extend beyond three months. Exceptionally the ‘mice’ research – questions and all – was one of the very few where the three month period was exceeded, if I remember correctly. Many toxins can take years to build up in the body, and so there are NO tests that have assessed the longer term effects of either the GMO product or the chemistry involved. We are all guinea pigs. Additionally, if I am not wrong, new GMO technology is not just the lab replacing manual techniques – it can involve using genes from fauna too. That’s all new. However, we know that respiratory and allergy illnesses and even cancers are on the increase in populations for reasons not yet known. Of course that does not point the finger at any one cause but does give cause for concerns. Also, regardless of all the ‘safety’ assurances regarding ‘agro’ chemicals, gardeners have higher rates of cancer, glyphosate being the most widely sold herbicide.

    You say that ignorance does not teach us anything specific.
    Ignorance can teach humility.

    • the world produces enough to feed the entire global population of 7 billion people… Your idea that stepping back from GMOs would cause ‘widespread famine’ is therefore without grounds

      No; we’re using GMOs to feed them, but otherwise couldn’t do it.

      The study I mentioned was only retracted after legal measures

      That’s a lie. I already mentioned it was retracted because of methodological problems. The source you linked to actually says so.

      I searched for ‘pesticide’ and ‘herbicide’ on his Wikipedia page and they only came up in criticisms of technologies that were not directly attributed to him. His main influence seems to go back a few decades and I did not see him advocating much at all in the way of chemicals… so is his work, however great, really relevant to GMOs of today – including their extensive use of chemistry?

      If you want to push for reforms that will reduce human ingestion of herbicides, I’ll support you. If you want to ban GMOs, you’re misplacing blame.

      Unanswered questions… many tests in the US are not legally obliged to extend beyond three months. … we know that respiratory and allergy illnesses and even cancers are on the increase in populations for reasons not yet known. Of course that does not point the finger at any one cause but does give cause for concerns.

      I’ll support bigger, longer studies of GMOs. I’ll support attempts to work out why certain things are on the rise (or whether they are; sometimes it’s because we’re better at detecting things than we were before). But there’s no more proof GMOs are behind any of this than that vaccines are behind autism. Once you have proof it’s a problem, the debate will move somewhere new. Until that happens, however, opposition to GMOs isn’t based on what we know about them.

      You say that ignorance does not teach us anything specific. Ignorance can teach humility.

      I meant it doesn’t tell us which propositions are true. An “argument from ignorance” is one that commits this fallacy. Humility doesn’t even tell us how much to use GMOs – which side should move to meet the other’s view?

      • The highest use of GMOs is in the States. That’s not feeding the starving! Globally commercialised GM was only about 10% by food as of 2010. Add to that that estimates of meat are that it takes about 10 to 20 times as much resource to feed people as grains – and about a third of food in affluent countries is plain wasted. There is enough food. The World Food Program people and the figures just don’t support your argument.

        “That’s a lie.” Is that sort of approach supposed to win friends or arguments? It was a genuine ‘error’. I apologise.

        I am not for banning GMOs. I agree that there is no proof. However, when the Hiroshima bomb was dropped no one was really sure what would happen. There was no proof of that either. I think there IS proof that business, government and Wall Street conspire (sorry to use that word!) to contort facts in the interests of profits. I see no reason why GMOs would not be involved.

        You make a good point: “opposition to GMOs isn’t based on what we know about them.” Can’t people object because of what we DON’T know about them? Remember DDT? Thalidomide?

        I KNEW what you meant in the scientific sense as regards ignorance. But some humility about ignorance would have avoided Chernobyl and a few other disasters. For many it is plain wrong to say that we should not even be permitted the informed choice – as Monsanto would have it – to know what we are eating simply because no one has yet found a problem. The herbicide residues are dangerous – that’s pure science. It’s not so easy to know about the actual crop, but I also think the business agenda is Wall St profits above any pretend interests in feeding the world’s populations.

  17. Alan4discussion Aug 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    The first link, appears to provide lots of raw data. the latter, a
    digest of various world problems, along with a few illustrative
    examples which show understanding of the problems and readable
    explanations.

    It’s a bit like comparing apples with kippers!

    Yep!

    In suggesting “bias”, the relevant question is, “Are the statements
    reporting correctly?”

    Both links below taste like kippers, not apples. Kipper lovers routinely supply links serving kippers and generally ignore apple links. (Any fool knows that links should taste like sausages!)

    http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/01/fine-print-food-wars

  18. John HH Aug 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    The concept of a revolution of the mind includes the idea that it
    takes no time. There is no process, no achievement, no arrival, no
    method, no lessons etc. We’re a bit off topic – GMOs! – but you did
    ask. If interested, here’s the best reference I can find online:
    http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-text.php?tid=23&chid=56981&w=observing

    Krishnamurti is far afield. I skimmed the site and at the moment haven’t reached a conclusion about its POV. But you talk of time. Posting at opinionated websites is not how I wanna’ spend a great deal of time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqeSUAlI5uI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJGSHMgbB0E

    Strident – I am guilty – as you politely do not accuse me! Bigoted,
    biased, prejudiced – these are more subjective judgements. No one sees
    themselves as these things – it is always someone else. So it’s just
    opinion to say this or that source is bigoted.

    Absolutely not! I’m a bigoted, biased ‘bass turd’ and am (almost) totally aware of every prejudiced opinion I hold. Jesus (heh-heh); if a person doesn’t have biases s/he’s as good as dead!

    As regards the importance of persuasion…If you feel more informed, wiser or
    whatever than others, you should encourage their understanding – not
    just their allegiance… IMHO.

    Population sites… I’m not sure of your point. There are a lot of us!
    Interesting to see the bulge in reproduction in Africa, though.

    My point is I trust the hobbyist more than the ‘kipper’ site. (If you don’t ‘get’ the reference it’s because a post of mine is currently in Moderator limbo.

    I read the CommonDreams page again. We all only have links and sadly
    there are loads of lies and distortions all over the web. I can’t see
    any reason to doubt the content of that page other than that it is
    obvious flag-waving for a cause. But in deciphering what seems
    more/less credible, I try to think behind the possible motives as
    regards why the content has been posted. Money buys, sells and profits
    from lies! More specifically, is there a lot of gain for someone or
    some business or government in telling a biased version of reality?
    Curiously, this site – RDF – is the only site that comes to mind where
    there is personal promotion AND online shopping AND a donation
    opportunity. (Only one of those three is found on ‘Common Dreams’.
    What a stupid title though!).

    People are free to donate or not to RDF and/or Common Dreams or any other site, and also choose their favorite reference sites. I do!

    Right now I’m wondering if I’m wasting time spending time here. Basically I’ve been (figuratively) chopping wood and carrying water most of my life.

  19. Thanks for a humoured response. I had the jitters putting anything as esoteric (to some) as Krishnamurti on this site. I guess he impressed me when I was young and although I think he talks sense – IMHO of course – the last thing any of us need in our lives are ‘heros’ or gurus… in fairness, he said that too.

    I’d also go for the ‘hobby’ site in search of a reliable perspective… other than that lone soldiers can make howlers just by lack of breadth. I’m not sure population figures are the main casualty of distortions though. But not admitting that we have a HUGE population problem is itself another problem. No one has any solution and it’s a vote-loser to tell people to stop having kids.

    I have tried to give up blogging a few times when it has become addictive. It can however teach you how to deal with others. When someone has a real go at me I’ll typically hammer the keys with counter accusations like many others, but I’m slowly realising that no one buys into anything unless you word it in an accommodating manner. If I’m not growing up at long last, then I must just be getting plain old.

    • John HH Aug 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks for a humoured response…

      My pleasure. (The second Youtube link in the post you replied to doesn’t work for me and I can’t figure why. Something to do with hidden HTML I guess. The Youtube header looks identical but works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJGSHMgbB0E)

      I had the jitters putting anything as esoteric (to some) as
      Krishnamurti on this site. I guess he impressed me when I was young
      and although I think he talks sense – IMHO of course – the last thing
      any of us need in our lives are ‘heros’ or gurus… in fairness, he said
      that too.

      An old friend describes his religious views as Free Will Pronoic, political views as liberal, libertarian and anarchistic, calls Rob Brezsny guru and quotes Alan Watts’ “Life should be taken sincerely, but life should never be taken seriously.”

      Pronoia is too far out for me. I sincerely believe god judges nothing, but is the operating system of reality. God also promises nothing but enables everything that is. (But only if reality is infinite, a state which can’t be scientifically observed yet.) Of course if reality is infinite then odds overwhelmingly favor (but don’t command) everything that can be, to be (If only from time to time.) Yes, infinity is pretty far out.

      I have tried to give up blogging a few times when it has become
      addictive. It can however teach you how to deal with others…If I’m
      not growing up at long last, then I must just be getting plain old.

      Like the sailor man I YAM gettin’ old! My guiding principle is ‘find the center’.

  20. Hi again…

    The Only Livin Boy link worked for me first time. What a belter of a song… and I didn’t know the story behind the lyrics till I read it yesterday. Paul simon wrote some really poignant lyrics, Homeward Bound, Mrs Robinson, America, I Am A Rock etc.

    I don’t think Krishnamurti would appreciate his views being described as ‘religious’ but I scan read that Pronoic link and whoever wrote the text in the white column has a real way with words. Funny – made me think of Carlos Castaneda and then I saw he was quoted further down the page. Have no faith in astrology but am willing to be proven wrong. I’m going to read that site anyway as the text is real brain teasing. Thanks for the link… hadn’t even heard of the word before.

    We better disappear now before we are reported to the Science Police.

    See ya… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAnBVr8DC2k

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