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Showing posts from 2013

Demanding a Right to Know

In discussions around biotechnology and food labeling there have been three recent cases where people have demanded a right to know what's in their food, but then declined a kind offer to learn when I actually offered to help them.  The right to know is an empty mantra, three words that sound like they are pursuing freedom and information.  However, at their root there is no desire to know-- just a desire to believe.

*NOTE 1/4/2014 UPDATE BELOW*

Here I'll present Case 1.  Hofstra Debate Follow Up-The debate at Hofstra was quite one sided from my perspective. One side was about fear, Gish gallops and bad activist information, the other side was tethered with science. You can guess the side I was on.  One of the debaters was Bhavani Jaroff, a local chef, radio personality and food activist.  Her debate style was to discuss the most shocking activist statements, parroting garbage science and bad conclusions, following the party line with great precision. She stood firmly on Seral…

Kauai III -- The Sweet Side of an Island Divided

*** NOTE- I prepared this blog entry a month ago after returning from Kauai, the day after I posted the angry messages I received, but neglected to post it.  I really regret that because this was meant to be the contrast to the anger.  This one is about the kind side and a common goal.***

As I watched the island of Kauai disappear in the airplane window I was a little sad at what I left behind.  It is a beautiful place with wonderful people for and against biotech-- for and against Ordinance 2491.  The companies brought me out there because I reach out and try to talk about the science.  When you reach out softly, you can't be surprised when someone kindly reaches back.

This picture from the day of the public hearing speaks volumes. You can't tell if the Rivera bothers are arm wrestling or shaking hands from both sides of the issue. Do any of us know?  In reality, we just don't want either one to lose.  photo credit: Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island (Hi Fern!)
My last post wa…

High Weirdness and Heimliching

I would not believe it if it did not happen to me. 


I get an email, out of the blue, that makes zero sense.


Even though I have no idea about what this is, I don't hesitate to invite myself for lunch and talk about trees...



So Sue writes me back, looks like lunch time!!


She then calls me and it turns out that she's at a conference down the street and there's an opportunity to network with a palm breeder.  He's bred new types of palms high in healthful oils, but they can't grow them in Florida because it is too cold.  These are equatorial trees with no cold tolerance. Still, maybe there's some cool tricks we could do to make it work here.

Unfortunately I had to decline because lunch was scheduled for 12:30, but was delayed because the conference was running late. I had an errand to run and then be at a graduate student orientation meeting at 1 pm.

I was driving on my way to the errand when my phone rings.  It was Sue, and it turns out that they moved the lunch u…

Fake Websites, Fake E-Mails- New Tactics in the Fight Against Science

Beware.  The underhanded elements of the anti-GM world are now impersonating scientists and companies in the electronic media.

A few weeks ago I received a frantic email from a plant scientist I know needing advice.  I'll give details soon.

In general, he was the organizer for a plant biology conference where transgenic (GMO) plants were part of the discussion.  Activists bought a URL similar to the conference URL, then sent emails using a corresponding email account, using his name in an attempt to defame him.

They wrote fraudulent emails with harmful content.  The idea was to cause harm to his reputation and the conference. Several emails were sent that may impact his career, and certainly they have caused him substantial grief.  Poor guy.  He's a good guy with a great family and wonderful students.  Yet there are those out there that want to hurt him and damage his career.

Today a website showed up on the internet at www.monsantoglobal.com .  This site is a direct mock-up o…

TH121 Infomercial- Anti-Aging and Weight Loss!

Today I'm listening to the hardcore right-wing radio station in town, the SKY WSKY 97.3 in Gainesville Florida. As I've posted before, although they want the 10 commandments in every classroom and courthouse in the USA, they spend the weekend as the vectors of bearing false witness. They run a series of fake medical radio shows that actually are infomercials for bogus health items.

Today I heard the claims of TH121, on a commercial posing as a radio show called "Ask The Doctor" hosted by Charlie Robbins. If by "ask" they mean staged phone calls and if "doctor" they mean the company selling a vitamin and making claims about it, then they are 100% honest.

These a-holes really make me mad. They had caller after caller phone in, without ever offering a dial up number. Each caller lost weight, and fast, without dieting and exercise! One caller claimed 9 pounds in three weeks! Then they say that there are no side effects, that is is "safe&q…

Seattle Workshop? Our Proposal's Fate.

You may remember that I submitted a proposal to give an "ask a scientist" workshop at the Seeds of Justice get together in Seattle, Aug 1-2.  The event has all of the usual suspects that will throw the usual crazy kerosene on the imaginary biotechnology fire.

My hope was to get all of the angry anti's in one place and just answer their questions honestly. Anastasia Bodnar, Jon Entine and I were excited to participate, even in a likely hostile forum. Certainly they'd be whipped into a frenzy by Smith, Shiva and the laundry list of non-scientists pontificating as experts.  What a great time to talk to them about science, how we do it, and what it says.

So what was their response?

Crickets.

Crickets.

Crickets.

No response.

Seeing as though we would need to plan, buy tickets, arrange lodging etc, it is not something we could do overnight.  It would be a significant expense for us to participate, but we were willing to take this on if given a forum to do some public edu…

Collateral Damage of Tripe

To many in the anti-GMO movement the report on pig stomach inflammation could not have been more welcome.  In a time were generating public hysteria is job #1, a flurry of hazard claims based on scientifically bankrupt articles in obscure journals is the best thing that can happen.

Or is it?

The latest attack on science comes from a report from renowned anti-GM activist Judy Carman.  Number 2 on her 'science' team is Mr. Howard Vleiger, the guy that came up with the stunning corn data that likely are fabricated numbers. So his stellar credibility may follow him here.

Their paper has some nice points in that they finally start to use relevant numbers and measure lots of health parameters.  That's good.  What is atrocious is the statistical massage (beating) and the overstepping of the data, as long as some severe flaws in experimental design. These have been discussed elsewhere and I might fill in some of the gaps later.

Good Ol' Mike Adams continues his scholarly interp…

University Scientists- Corporate Puppets or Public Servants? - a Post Revisited

*** I posted this a few years ago and it really fits well in the current climate.  How much are scientists really "paid off" by corporate interests?  How much funding at public institutions comes from corporate sources? ***

The scientific consensus of public, academic scientists tells us that:

1. The earth's climate is warming, with at least a component of human cause
2. Evolution explains the diversity of life on earth and continues
3. Transgenic trangenic (GMO) food crops are safe and effective
4. Vaccines are a tremendous, safe cornerstone in public health.
5. Stem cell based therapies show great promise and some application now

Every one of these statements is a well supported hypothesis.  Each is based on substantial data from different experiments and models, from many independent labs, worldwide.

Critics suggest that such data and conclusions only are present because academic scientists are "bought and paid for" by big corporations.  The allegation is tha…

An "Experiment"? Really?

Last week the interwebs reverberated in shock over news that a student had been expelled from school for conducting a science experiment. I was shocked too, certainly I've been extremely active in science fairs, elementary school science education and fostering the adoption of STEM disciplines by minorities and young women.  This is an outrage!

Until you read the details.  I don't know why the world has rushed to her defense.  To me, this is entirely different than a science experiment gone bad, as it is described in the press.

A science experiment gone bad?  Are you serious?  This is an insult to every child in a science fair that does a hypothesis-based, replicated, rigorous science experiment. 
I contend that she was curious and put a caustic chemical into a container with a catalyst and it exploded.  That's not an experiment.  

Of course, her parents have lawyered-up, the public is in a state of outrage and many are screaming for justice.  I just have a few questions for …

Scientific Terrorism- Forcing You to Change with Fear

Is the anti-GMO movement scientific terrorism? Terrorism is defined as acts committed which are intended to create fear (terror), perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal.  Here I will show evidence from only one recent source that supports the assertion that the anti-GMO movement is scientific terrorism.

Last week we saw Zen Honeycutt and Moms Across America deploy explosive nonsense, outright falsehoods, in an attempt to cause as much intellectual collateral damage as possible- to build fear, create terror -- when no scientific reason exists.

This week let's look at an on-line petition from ForceChange.org.  Note, this is not "inspire change" or "scientifically influence change".  it is FORCE CHANGE.  Change is demanded and they will use any means possible to achieve it, even if it is not scientifically warranted. 

Their stated goal is to force change because their beliefs and ideological goals dictate that they do-- they have marching orders …

When Terror Fails: Courage and Outrage Ignite

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon was a rookie job.  Sadly it ended in death and injury, so to those it touched it is quite serious and just as horrendous as a jet plane into a skyscraper.  The unexpected instantly changed many lives, and those killed and those surviving feel tragedy forever.

The goal of the perpetrator was to generate fear and terror. Fail. In their place is only anger and courage, and an understanding that we will not tolerate this bullshit and we'll fix it if it happens again.  We will care for those affected.

(Predictions and thoughts ahead)

If the goal of this person, and it was one person, was to generate terror and fear, then it is a major fail. This 34-year-old white male targeted the Boston Marathon.  He wanted to raise fear and terror. Instead he raised anger, resolve and dedication to a bigger ideal.  He picked the wrong event.

The marathon is the ultimate display of human resolve and character, an ability to play through pain, move when you can't m…

Moms (well) Mobs Across America- Follow the Money

The recent discussion of the data appearing on the Moms Across America have gone viral.  They have shown up across the interwebs.  Just google "stunning corn comparison" and you can see how the non-discriminating science palate of activist websites have bought the story as the highest scientific evidence of transgenic plant harm.  Even Natural News calls this made up data on a flyer a "paper" insinuating that it is some peer-reviewed work.

The readers of this blog have been wonderful in searching out reality.  Several have posted the original links to a pdf from a fertilizer company in Canada that subscribes to anti-transgenic crop nonsense.

Today I was directed to the Moms Across America again by blog reader Alun Salt.  It was the 'Moms' site that started the whole flap about how transgenic corn has no nutritional value but is loaded with glyphosate and formaldehyde.  The corn is rich in zinc an copper but has no calcium or carbon-- numbers that just don&#…

The Gullible "Moms Across America"- A Post Mortem

A friend sent me a link to an alleged scientific report.  The "report", found here, claims to show the "stunning" nutrient content in GMO corn vs. non-GMO corn.  Mom's Across America, a website dedicated to fear mongering and cleansing of scientific input, posted this information and decorated it with a healthy sprinkling of non-critical thinking and logical fallacy. 

Unfortunately for them, the "report" has no source cited, no methods, no anything.  Definitions in the footnotes are wrong.  It appears to be a table of soil data (there is more zinc and copper than carbon present, etc) or is a complete fabrication. 

When corrected by scientists in the comments section, we were ripped apart by aggressive robot-like dogma that discredited us, slandered us and distorted our work. 

When we replied, many of the replies were censored from the website, allowing only the insane comments of bitter non-scientists to be presented.  As usual, if you can't discuss …

Blocked from Commenting- for Exposing Facts

Last week I pointed out that some data pitched as the dangers of GM corn were actually not from corn, but from soil itself. I found the root of the problem on Moms Across America a website desiring to stoke fear of biotechnology-- even if it means lying to readers and silencing critics that dare to talk science.

Moms Across America- Keeping Children Safe from Critical Thinking Since (at least) 2013
To recap, they posted a table of data allegedly comparing GM to non-GM corn.  The whole story is here. The conclusion from their side is that GM corn contains more zinc and copper than carbon and is loaded with glyphosate and formaldehyde.  My conclusion was that they were fooled with soil data, which is obviously the case.

When I called out the bogus information the followers of the site immediately jumped to diffuse-and-attack mode.  The comments below show this beautifully.  Not only do they try to link me to Big Corporate Ag (predictably), they also move the goalpost--   since they have …

An Anti-Intellectual Attack Against Young Women

A petition has gone viral.   Spawned from an ambitious, maybe eight year old girl Alicia Serratos of Orange County, CA, a petition has been launched on Change.org to persuade the Girl Scouts of America to remove transgenic (GMO) ingredients from girl scout cookies.  Alicia claims (well, her parents claim) that "GMOs studies (sic) (in animals) have linked them to infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system."


The page from Alica's anti-GMO cookie petition.  It is hard to get a hunger for cookies when you have been fed full of deception.


Of course, there is no real evidence to support her claims of health problems that is accepted by the scientific community.  Scientific consensus is that transgenic crops have an outstanding safety record and have no plausible mechanism of harm.

While her parents should be congratulated about raising a daughter that is inspired to take action and crea…