Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So it's come to this

We passed 400ppm the other day. It occasioned some hang-wringing, but no more than that. Many were at pains to point out that the milestone is strictly symbolic, that CO2 is steadily rising and likely will continue to do so, etc.

It's hard to know what will be required to shake us out of our torpor and motive human civilization to begin aggressively cutting fossil fuels. Something will, eventually. The beauty of this problem is that is will get progressively worse until we are ready to stop ignoring it. The unfortunate thing is that it will then continue to get worse for many decades after that.

Optimists abound, of course. Mark Lynas is still in the mix, accusing "catastrophists" of ignoring past human impacts on the environment:


 As in his ill-considered attack on Diamond's "Collapse," however, Lynas is really rebutting a straw man: no one is arguing that humans' changing their environment is a new thing. Changing it in this way and to this extent is a new thing.

It's hard to tell from a Tweet, but Lynas seems to want to think that because changes happened in the past, and humanity survived it, that there's nothing to worry about in radically altering the climate upon which our survival depends. But of course, that is not at all what the historical record shows. The historical record is replete with mighty empires that turned fertile lands into deserts, tribes that hunted the large mammals to extinction (creatures they might have domesticated as farm animals or beasts of burden), societies that outgrew their water supplies or the available food supplies. Predictable disasters resulted.

The long history of people altering their environments is in part a history of people who carelessly or in ignorance damaged the productive capacity of the environments they inhabited. It's entirely in keeping with that history that we face similar choices today.

29 comments:

  1. I think you're being a tad harsh on Lynas here. His background is that humanity will survive the upcoming changes in the environment ONLY if we do something about it do adapt to and ameliorate the change.

    As you say, it's a bit difficult to tell from a tweet but he does have three books and a website dedicated to exploring ways of avoiding the catastrophe.

    Quiet Waters

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    1. I don't know, the term "catastrophists" seems rather loaded, not that I'm not occasionally guilty of using loaded terms myself.

      My exposure to Lynas so far has given me the impression that he is prone to take a Kloor-like "militant moderate" view -- I'm reasonable, not like those crazy irresponsible greens, etc.

      I would be happy to be mistaken. Is there anything of his you would particularly recommend as advancing a constructive contribution to the issues?

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  2. By the way, did you bother to look at the paper he was tweeting about?

    Quiet Waters

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    1. As a matter of fact I did. It wasn't news to me, and if Lynas has read Jared Diamond (which he should have done, since he is fond of attacking him in print) it shouldn't have been news to him either. None of it has any bearing on the likelihood, or not, of severely damaging consequences of climate change.

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    2. But Lynas isn't attacking Climate Change catastrophists here - more the Malthusians. As should be evident from the subject of the paper linked.

      As to recommending his output, if you haven't the time or inclination to read Six Degrees or the God Species both of which present a catastrophic view and some potential ways out then perhaps some of the highlights from his blog (which, by the way has three references to Diamond, all on the same subject - hardly a sign of any fondness for attacking him):

      A 'position statement': http://www.marklynas.org/2011/07/the-need-for-a-rational-environmentalism-speech-at-god-species-launch/

      Catastrophe is possible:
      http://www.marklynas.org/2013/01/global-warming-does-exist/

      But avoidable:
      http://www.marklynas.org/2011/05/how-to-decarbonise-the-uk/

      As long as interested parties work together to the same goal:
      http://www.marklynas.org/2012/03/can-solar-pv-really-power-the-uk/

      Anti-science is anti-science, whether it's climate change denial or anti-GMO/nuclear activism. We need every tool available to us to ensure an avoidance of the catastrophe:
      http://www.marklynas.org/2013/04/time-to-call-out-the-anti-gmo-conspiracy-theory/

      "...The fact that I helped promote unfounded scare stories in the early stages of the anti-GMO movement in the mid 1990s is the reason why I now feel compelled to speak out against them. I have a personal responsibility to help put these myths to rest because I was so complicit in initially promoting them.
      My activism, which I wrongly thought of at the time as being ‘environmental’, has done real damage in the world. For me, apologising was therefore only the beginning. I am now convinced that many people have died unnecessarily because of mistakes that we in the environmental movement collectively made in promoting anti-GMO fear. With that on your conscience, saying sorry and then moving on is not enough. Some restitution is in order..."

      Quiet Waters



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    3. Mark Lynas is completely wrong in his assertion that all of us who are critical of the so-called benefits of GMOs are anti-science. In fact, the opposite is true. GMO promoters are the ones who disregard science and make unfounded statements about the safety and efficacy of their products without doing science. There are now plenty of peer reviewed papers showing that all the claims by the GMO promoters are just myths and that there are many problems associated with their use. The promoters have been very successful in down playing the negative effects, mainly by vilify any scientists who dared publish findings which showed how bad the crops are.

      Here is a very good example showing just how unscientific the promoters are:

      http://www.gmfreecymru.org.uk/pivotal_papers/seven-sins.html

      So please stop referring to those who oppose these crops as being Luddites or anti-science, we are not, many of us are professional scientists who have worked in basic science closely related to what rDNA is doing. There are many aspects of the science that the promoters do not understand or unwilling to accept and brush of the scientists with the comment "that is impossible, it will never happen". Well they have been proved wrong time and time again.

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    4. From the article that Ian Forrester links to:

      "I should briefly mention a personal interest in the relationship between GM crops and science. I was one of 28 Greenpeace volunteers who in 1999 removed part of a GM maize crop being grown in Norfolk as part of a five year, field scale trial to investigate the relative impact of GM and non GM crops on farmland wildlife."

      Destroying a scientific experiment aimed at investigating the effects of GM on wildlife is NOT anti-science? Destroy the experiment thus attempting to prevent it adding to the body of knowledge on the subject, tell me - how is that pro-science?

      Seems particuarly egregious when later on in the article:

      "Fourth, the pro-GM lobby has deliberately prevented independent research into the safety of GM food, by denying the scientists the samples they require to do such work"

      So it's a sin to deny "independent" scientists samples but not to destroy research projects. OK, got that Peter Melchett, founder of the Soil Association - purveyors of the finest homeopathy to farmers in the UK.

      http://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/latestblog/article/169/homeopathy-and-the-soil-association


      Quiet Waters

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    5. Typical ad hominen comment from an anti-science GMO promoter.

      Please tell us about one long term actual benefit to consumers and farmers coming from the use of GMO crops. Please back it up with actual references in the peer reviewed scientific literature. I can give you a long list of peer reviewed papers that show the harmful effects to consumers and farmers.

      The only benefits are to the bottom lines of the companies promoting these products, crops and chemicals.

      Delete
  3. What is ad hominem about pointing out that the article presented in defence of the claim that anti-GMO is not anti-science specifically states that the author has carried out the destruction of scientific experiments in the name of anti-GMO movement?

    To reiterate - is not the destruction of crops looking at the effect of GM crops on the environment the epitome of anti-science?

    I'll concede that the homeopathy link was unwarranted, but then is homeopathy not expressly anti-science too?

    Quiet Waters

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    1. You continue with your ad hominem comments by reiterating that you consider organic farming to be the equivalent of homeopathy. You use two logical fallacies now, strawman and ad hominem.

      You still have not provided one instance of a benefit to farmers and consumers.

      Do you consider it "scientific" to release self propagating organisms into the environment, organisms which will have a deleterious effect on organic farmers who now have difficulty getting their crops certified as organic? Deliberate pollution is science and legal in your world? Ooh I forgot, the GMO promoters claimed that that was impossible. No wonder the average person has so much disrespect for GMO promoters.

      Delete
    2. QW, I think we need to be clear about how we are using the term "anti-science."

      In one sense everything that interferes science could be considered anti-science: voting against funding, civil disobedience by animal rights activists, etc. That could be valid.

      We could also call anti-science that which is contrary to the empirical facts discovered by science: religion, homeopathy, etc. Again, potentially valid but broad.

      Then there is a very narrow definition, which I favor, which is:

      * An attitude that says that a well-established area of science is massively wrong, and uses conspiracist thinking, prejudice against the scientific establishment, and the elevation of dubious "experts" and their research above the broad consensus in a scientific field.

      Though seemingly very exact, this describes:
      * Climate change deniers
      * Anti-vaccine campaigners
      * Large parts of the home-birth movement
      * Certain senators personal theories of rape
      * Holocaust deniers
      * Moon landing "skeptics"

      I do think at least some part of the anti-GMO movement meet the definition. Ian, you unfortunately sound very much like a climate denier, in demanding QW prove the benefits of GMOs to you (why?), denying that they have any benefits (when there are obviously many, including better yields, long shelf time, less pesticide use, etc.) and invoking the "disrespect" of the "average person" (who probably could not care less; none of us who cares deeply about these issues is "average."

      I suggest, Ian, that you acknowledge the positives of GMOs, and make a measured argument for a net disadvantage, grounded in the best science available. A good cause (as the case may be) does not excuse a bad argument!

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    3. Why am I wrong in asking for an example of a positive benefit? The GMO promoters give their idea of "benefits" on a constant basis. Unfortunately, when you examine their claims you find that they are just PR and are not backed up by real science. Take their claim that GMOs use less pesticides. This is not true, actual pesticide use has gone up. It will keep on going up since weeds have developed resistance so more and different (more toxic: 2-4D) herbicides must be used. A similar thing has happened with Bt crops where the insects are developing resistance far faster than the promoters predicted, even with their so-called stacked products.

      http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5806.short
      http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/2190-4715-24-24.pdf

      Yields have not gone up.

      First I've heard of longer shelf life unless you are referring to the flavrsaver tomato which was a failure.

      I wont even get into the poor science that the companies are using. An example of which is the large gene fragment which exits in about 67% of the crops. The gene product is one which, if expressed fully, can have harmful effects. We don't know whether the gene fragment is transcribed or not but surely this should be a red flag and an area of scientific research? How can they say that what they are doing is so precise when a large gene fragment gets inadvertently inserted into their products?

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  4. OK Ian I'll play your game - one benefit linked at the end of this.

    Now, will you answer my question about destruction of scientific experiments please?

    Pretty please? I have asked it three times now.

    Hutchinson et al (2010) "Areawide Suppression of European Corn Borer with Bt Maize Reaps Savings to Non-Bt Maize Growers" Science Vol. 330 pp. 222-225

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6001/222.abstract

    "Transgenic maize engineered to express insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has become widely adopted in U.S. agriculture. In 2009, Bt maize was planted on more than 22.2 million hectares, constituting 63% of the U.S. crop. Using statistical analysis of per capita growth rate estimates, we found that areawide suppression of the primary pest Ostrinia nubilalis (European corn borer) is associated with Bt maize use.


    Cumulative benefits over 14 years are an estimated $3.2 billion for maize growers in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, with more than $2.4 billion of this total accruing to non-Bt maize growers.


    Comparable estimates for Iowa and Nebraska are $3.6 billion in total, with $1.9 billion for non-Bt maize growers. These results affirm theoretical predictions of pest population suppression and highlight economic incentives for growers to maintain non-Bt maize refugia for sustainable insect resistance management."

    Quiet Waters

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  5. OK, I have now recovered from my laughing fits after reading the article that Quiet Waters cited. I think the authors should take remedial lessons in logic. How can they be taken seriously when they claim:

    "Cumulative benefits over 14 years are an estimated $3.2 billion for maize growers in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, with more than $2.4 billion of this total accruing to non-Bt maize growers".

    Why should any farmer plant Bt corn if they could get more economic benefit by planting non-Bt corn?

    Don't you think that the increase in corn prices from $3.00 in 1997 to just under $7 a bushel in 2012 can affect the economics?

    Of course in the last 2 years there has been a dramatic increase in resistance of corn root worm and European corn borer to the Bt toxins. So much for a long term benefit.

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    1. Laughing too hard to answer the question (again) or even to read the abstract - note "areawide suppression of the primary pest Ostrinia nubilalis (European corn borer) is associated with Bt maize use". But then it's easier to mock than to understand.

      Didn't like that one then there's another one at the end but what about answering the question - for a FOURTH time: is not the destruction of crops looking at the effect of GM crops on the environment the epitome of anti-science?

      A link as promised - in article rather than journal form for easier understanding:

      http://www.biofortified.org/2012/06/rainbow/

      "Hawaiian papaya farmers were faced with devastation from ringspot virus, a plant virus that reduced papaya production by 50 percent within six years and just kept spreading. Small farmers faced losing their livelihoods when one plant pathologist developed a virus-resistant variety called the Rainbow and distributed the seeds to struggling farmers—for free. Fourteen years later, Hawaii’s small papaya farmers are flourishing.

      There’s a lot to like about this story—the altruism of the researcher, the success of independent local farmers. But there’s one detail that could change everything about how you see it: the Rainbow papaya is genetically modified."


      Quiet Waters

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  6. Tracker you state that anti-science is

    "An attitude that says that a well-established area of science is massively wrong, and uses conspiracist thinking, prejudice against the scientific establishment, and the elevation of dubious "experts" and their research above the broad consensus in a scientific field."

    I'd add a further aspect to that definition where anti-scientists deliberately destroy or disrupt the business of going about science - we see this with the DoS attacks instigated by the McIntyre crowd & I see a direct parallel between those & the destruction of GM experimental crops in the name of the 'cause'.

    Ian is displaying a wide range of the traits outlined by you in this thread & I think it's telling that he refuses to answer the question I've put to him about the detruction of experiments - as it turns out, the results of the experiment that Melchett was involved in attempting to destroy actually found AGAINST the claim that the GM crop in question was better for the environment - so we see the strange sight of groups cheering the results of an experiment they attempted to destroy:

    http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/gm_crops_blair_who_do_you.html

    Refers to this experiment:

    http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/press-releases/greenpeace-decontaminates-gm-field-lord-melchett-arrested

    To go further, we can see further aspects of denial in the links that Ian provides in response to your urging to make a measured argument: The second link speaks atraight to your narrow definition - specifically the "elevation of dubious "experts" and their research above the broad consensus in a scientific field"

    Charles Benbrook is an Organic farming activist - that's fine, more power to him as reduced intensity farming definitely has a part to play in avoiding the catastrophe. However, I'm with Lynas in hoping that we can all pull together in the same direction. Which means not promoting organics through trashing GM, either physically or through the release of deeply flawed papers making false claims, we get enough of that from the climate deniers. (The Benbrook paper is thorughly debunked here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7hhP5QasNtsUHZwcW9vdVZUMUU/edit?usp=drive_web&pli=1)

    The first link speaks to another aspect of science denial - that scientists are corrupt & not worth listening to right up until they produce a paper that you agree with. A viewpoint we see regularly among the Wattsians. I've seen Ian on several GM threads question the validity of research based on the affiliations of the authors but here he links to a paper where the conflict of interest declaration states: "B.E.T. received support for research that is not related to this publication from the following sources: ... Monsanto, and Dow AgroSciences. He is also a coauthor of a patent on engineering modified Bt toxins..."

    That's right, Ian is quoting a paper by a GM scientist funded by Monsanto AND Dow! And yet the contention is (to quote Ian) "GMO promoters are the ones who disregard science and make unfounded statements about the safety and efficacy of their products without doing science" - unless of course they do & then it's fine to quote them.

    On a different tack, have you revisited your perception of Lynas or do you still hold the same view that he "seems to want to think that because changes happened in the past, and humanity survived it, that there's nothing to worry about in radically altering the climate"?

    Quiet Waters


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  7. For Quiet Waters information and any one else who may be interested, my background is biochemistry (45 plus years) so to label me as "anti-science" is an insult. That is probably why I get so enraged by the GMO promoter crowd. They insult and vilify any scientist who disagrees with what they are doing. Let's face it, the majority of GMO crops have been shown to have major problems.

    There are probably many more problems lurking which have not been exposed so far. But industry pressure and politicians who are in the pockets of the industry (are you denying that the same thing is not happening with AGW denying?) means that proper research to further identify problems does not get carried out.

    I spent 7 years as a post-doc investigating chemical carcinogenesis. I am well aware of genetic regulation and how promoters act in gene regulation. It is naive to think that we know everything about how genes can be manipulated. Too many of the pro GMO scientists still live back in the Watson Crick area of DNA ---> RNA ---> single gene product. In the real world things are a lot more complicated.

    So stop accusing anyone who disagrees with you as being a Luddite or anti-science. Most of us have a respect for our well being and only wish that all precautions and testing be performed before these crops are recognized as being without problems. This has not been adequately done in the past since many of the problems now being identified were predicted before hand but the promoters did not listen to or act on these predictions preferring to claim "that will never happen". Seems like GMO promoters use a crystal ball for their "predictions" rather than science.

    As for the GM papaya it has benefited some farmers but others who wanted to stay with non-GM papaya (higher price) were forced out of business because of contamination since the major markets at the time did not want GM or GM contaminated papaya. There are problems with the papaya crop in Thailand where GM contamination has caused a loss of markets and a decrease in price.

    As for destroying GM field tests. The GMO promoters think it is OK to destroy a number of scientists' careers but it is wrong to destroy potentially harmful field tests. I myself would not get involved in that type of protest but I can see the frustration when politicians and industry groups cannot understand the potential harm that could ensue.

    All people involved were found not guilty of any wrong doing, in case anyone is wondering what happened to the case Peter Melchett was involved with. Seems like our legal system is more in touch with reality than politicians.

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    1. A few points:

      Science denial or an anti-science perspective are evidenced by ways of arguing, rhetorical tactics, and certain common elements of the belief system. Sadly, those with a science background are not immune.

      Rather than be insulted, I would suggest you ask yourself three questions I came up with to distinguish true skeptics from deniers:

      1. Can you state clearly and without editorializing or hyperbole what the case in favor of [GM products] is?

      2. Can you summarize the strongest piece of evidence in favor of that argument?

      3. If you were wrong in your opinion [of GM foods] how would you know?

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    2. Tracker, you are making a few assumptions which are not correct. There are many documented cases of the harmful and negative effects of GMOs and essentially no long term benefits except those described in the PR bulletins issued by the producers. Therefore I cannot in all honesty put a case forward in favour of GMOs as they exist today.

      What I will do is outline the many negative effects found for these products. I keep asking for benefits but those attacking me cannot come up with any that cannot be severely criticized. Please note that I did not appreciate your comment comparing me to an AGW denier. I did not ask for proof since science cannot determine proof only show positives and/or negatives about a product. I asked for examples which ia a completely different question and one that GMO promoters have trouble answering.

      The effects depend on which of the GM traits we are looking at.

      RR crops
      1. They have led to a dramatic rise in glyphosate resistant weeds. This is well documented so nobody can honestly argue against that. It is a fact.

      2. There are many recent reports in the peer reviewed literature of harmful effects caused by glyphosate to various living organisms. The pathway for one of these effects has been demonstrated at the molecular level, namely interference with the retinoic acid signalling pathway. Interference with this leads to neural tube defects in experimental animals. One example is spina bifida. This is now well documented in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

      3. In areas where massive and sloppy aerial spraying of glyphosate is occurring there has been a sudden increase in miscarriages and new borns exhibiting the same defects as shown by the animal models.

      4. It is worrisome that the EPA has recently raised the limits for glyphosate residues for feed and food.

      Bt crops
      1. One of the problems with the tests carried out on the safety is that all safety tests were performed on the Bt toxins as produced in their natural host, Bacillus thuringiensis. As far as I am aware no one had performed tests on the toxins as produced by the new host. Why is this important? Well one reason is post translational modification. These toxins are glyco-proteins and the kinds and placements of the sugar residues are determined by the new host. It will be extremely unlikely that the new host will be able to accurately replicate the glycosylations. These glycosylations are important in specificity of site binding and in immunological response.

      2. As with the RR crops the targeted pests are now becoming resistant to the Bt toxins.

      3. A recent peer reviewed report shows problems with Bt toxins and mammalian blood. Again this needs to be verified or shown to be an error. It should not be swept under the rug and the authors vilified has is the usual response to negative papers.

      http://esciencecentral.org/journals/JHTD/JHTD-1-104.pdf

      This is a pretty damning list if they turn out to be correct. That is the problem, for some of them we just don't know since the proper testing is not being done since "substantial equivalence" has been used in the past to determine safety. It is just not good enough and in fact many of the tests carried out by and for these companies cannot in all honesty be called proper science e.g arbitrary cut off times for feeding trials, saying metabolic effects are just natural variation when they occur at the termination of the short feeding times.

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    3. No time to give a full post here - busy weekend - but as a placeholder in the debate I just want to point out that resistance is an issue with ALL forms of crop husbandry (some forms of labour-intensive organic techniques such as tillage or direct removal of pests aside).

      To use resistance as a stick to beat GMOs indicates a lack of knowledge of agricultural systems.



      I'd also like to mention that "others who wanted to stay with non-GM papaya (higher price) were forced out of business" not due to GM contamination but due to the ubiquity of the virus that had virtually destroyed the papaya industry and led to the development of rainbow papaya.

      Finally, before I go (see you Monday) I'll point to the first line in Ian's first direct response to me:

      "Typical ad hominen comment from an anti-science GMO promoter."

      Ian has no clue as to my background and yet, whilst being enraged by being labelled as anti-scientific (despite the evidence) is quite happy to fling the same accusation at others.

      I'll return to Ian's latest post on Monday when I've had time to read what he's linked to.

      Quiet Waters

      PS. Tracker, you may have missed my question to you at the end of my last post, I would be interested in your answer though.

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  8. Quiet Waters is anti-science since all he does is regurgitate GMO promoters' brochures. He does not argue science with science or point in the direction of science. That is why I called him anti-science.

    Anyone checked out that article he pointed us to by Mark Lynas? Full of lies and misrepresentations straight out of the GMO promoter handbook.

    The science is now in, the GMO promoters are wrong and we should be a lot more careful in approving any new GMO crops.

    There are significant advances being made in agriculture around the world using a new technique called marker assisted breeding. This and other approaches are leading the way in providing crops which do increase yields and provide benefits to the farmer. They are now being used in large quantities in Africa.

    Zambia, which Lynas mentions in his article above, is now self sufficient in food and is exporting to a number of countries. Not a GM crop in sight.

    NB: I use the term GM as being equivalent to rDNA.

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  9. So, I had a look at the Swiss Mice paper (noting in passing that a similarly titled paper by the same authors was withdrawn from Food Chemical Toxicology: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23146696) and, on the face of it it seems a good paper on what happens when you feed Bt to mice at elevated doses (270,000 nanograms per gram as opposed to the highest environmental rates found (from the OECD report cited in the paper) of 450 nanograms per kilo).

    So, a toxin administered at more than 500 the environmental rate is toxic. Thanks Ian.

    This is the thing, Ian regurgitates the anti-GMO line (the paper is available through GMWatch if you google the title) uncritically whilst showing serious comprehension issues when reading pro-GM literature - either peer-reviewed papers or more basic Q&A articles.

    What hope is there in even discussing the issues with someone who has the idealogical blinkers on?

    And he calls me anti-science :)



    Quiet Waters

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  10. Further, I've been flicking through the "seven sins" that Ian linked to at the start and it is full of lies - for example Melchett states: "What is needed are long-term and lifetime animal feeding studies to see the effects of eating GM foods over an extended period ... Such studies are compulsory for pesticides and pharmaceutical drugs, but not for GM foods – even though the exposure is likely to be longer-term for a food than for a pesticide or drug." Implying that these haven't been done but then we find the likes of this:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871678412008801

    Assessment of GE food safety using ‘-omics’ techniques and long-term animal feeding studies


    That's right - LONG-TERM feeding studies! And what did it find?

    "Despite the fact that a thorough, lengthy and costly evaluation of genetically engineered (GE) crop plants (including compositional analysis and toxicological tests) is imposed before marketing some European citizens remain sceptical of the safety of GE food and feed...we examined data from 60 recent high-throughput ‘-omics’ comparisons between GE and non-GE crop lines and 17 recent long-term animal feeding studies (longer than the classical 90-day subchronic toxicological tests), as well as 16 multigenerational studies on animals."

    Yes, 17 long term feeding experiments & 16 multigenerational studies - 33 studies, but Melchett implies there has been none!

    What did they find? Well "► No adverse health effects were reported in long-term studies. ► No adverse health effects were reported in multigenerational studies."

    Further: "►Transgenesis results in fewer unintended impacts than conventional breeding. ► Environmental factors have been shown to exert a greater impact than transgenesis. ► Some pleiotropic effects do occur when certain pathways are modified."

    Fewer unintended impacts than conventional breeding! Of course, Ian won't like this study & will dismiss it as GM propaganda...


    Quiet Waters

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  11. Speaking of propaganda. (And apologies, this was all one post but it was too long for a comment box...)

    Funnily enough, I was in Zambia during the famine that Ian mentions above (not in any official capacity - i was volunteering in Kafue National Park doing species inventories). The fixer for the volunteer group I was working with (Lovemore Simwanda) was also a big voice in the ear of government and had an office full of anti-GMO propaganda (leaflets & posters covered with skull & crossbones, dead people (the implication that they had been killed by GMOs) and the like). From several conversations with him I realised Dr Simwanda showed no understanding of these issues - he had been targetted by Greenpeace and fed all the propaganda bollocks tehy could throw at him. Talking to the villagers around the edge of Kafue they couldn't understand why they were starving when "America has sent us food that we cannot eat". I didn't see the riots myself, but I did see them on the news as people fought to get at the stored food. The presence of grain silos filled with food in a country where children were starving remains a defining insight to me as to the lengths activists will go to in the name of their ideology.

    Zambia has always been self-sufficient in food in general. However the drought leading up to 2002 combined with the political situation in Zimbabwe led to shortages and people died. People died whilst there was food mouldering in warehouses due to Western-inspired anti-GM paranoia.

    If we are to avoid more people dying then we need to take a proper look at GM as part of a suite of crop improvements, including marker-assisted breeding, push/pull techniques, monitoring & forecasting pest movements and possibly even organic (though not Soil-Association approved homeopathy). We need to be able to evaluate the technology without having to be confronted with over-hyped under-scientific pseudostudies (Seralini et al. I'm looking at you).

    And people really should try to understand the issues involved before bleating on about well-trodden agricultural problems such as resistane & seed IP as if they had been invented along with Genetic Engineering when they have been an issue since we started trying to protect our crops & develop better strains.

    That's all I'll say on this in this thread now. I'll let Ian have the last word. I'm sure though that all this will be as water off a duck's back & rather than listen he'll accuse me of being a GM shill (I'm not, I just want people to use every tool in the box in order to survive what's coming).


    Quiet Waters

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  12. Oh, almost forgot - one last thing & then I will stop - honest!


    The anti-GM activists always bang on about a lack of testing, and that any testing there has been reveals safety issues. Ian will no doubt produce a Popular Technology-style list of papers eventually - he has already promised it so here's a list of 600+ studies that show GM crops are safe (for a given meaning of safe). Close to 30% of these publications are produced and funded by organisations that are completely independent of large commercial seed companies.

    Enjoy!:

    http://gmopundit.blogspot.co.uk/p/450-published-safety-assessments.html#!/p/450-published-safety-assessments.html

    Quiet Waters

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've has enough of Quiet Water's misinformation and lies. I will let the readers of this blog determine for themselves which of us is closer to the truth on the now very evident negative effects of most GMO crops in widespread use today.

    Arguing with someone who is as scientifically blind and biased as he is is a waste of time. He has vast stores of misleading GMO PR to fall back on for every valid scientific criticism.

    ReplyDelete
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