Saturday, April 6, 2013

Anti-GMO Data Stokes Alarm!

"Proof is boring, proof is tiresome, proof is an irrelevance.  People would far rather be handed an easy lie than search for a difficult truth, especially if it suits their own purposes"

Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings

I got a note on Facebook from a friend... "Kevin, what do you make of this?"  He must have smelled a rat.  He also must have known that I was enjoying a nice Friday night working on a nearly-complete manuscript and was one-third through a 12-pack of Sierra Nevada.  I had my favorite sweatshirt on and warm socks. It was a peaceful night, until his email.  A click on the link would make veins pulse in my head, as a misrepresentation / fabrication of data was presented as a new argument against transgenic technology.

The anti-GM goofballs bought it, hook, line and sinker.

The website is shown below, and claims "Stunning Corn Comparison: GMO Versus Non-GMO".  True to its word, it did not disappoint.  It was stunning.  Stunningly stupid. Stunningly non-scientific. And worse, stunningly accepted as factual. Facebook pages that link it glow with anger at Monsanto and biotechnology.  This page, and all it's insanity, had 683 "likes"... even more this morning.

Misrepresented statistics stoke the credulous mind.  A page with four-out-of-five stars and "liked" by 600+ Facebook users.  But it's not nutritional data. And they bought it. That little grey box talks about the species of aliens that walk among us, to provide some context for the validity of the anti-GM propaganda.  

If you go down the list there are more red flags than in a Beijing tourist trap gift shop.   Before we go forward, keep in mind that the accompanying text warns, "The important thing to note in these deficiencies is (sic) that these are exactly the deficiencies in a human being that lead to susceptibility to sickness, disorders and cancer.  People who have osteoporosis are low in calcium and magnesium, people who have cancer are low in maganese (sic). The list goes on and on. GMO Corn has 14 ppm of Calcium and NON GMO corn has 6130 ppm. 437 X more. GMO corn has 2 ppm of Magnesium and NON GMO corn has 113ppm. 56 X more."  Keep reading, blog reader.  It is not just a proofreading abortion, this gets embarrassing for them.  Remember, they are telling you that these are data representing corn nutrition and are linked to disease.

I'm just going to say "WTF?" right up front, but as we move forward know it is all that is going through my head as some activist has perverted science in an irretrievably stoooopid way. I'm only addressing highlights!-- I'd be here all day otherwise! 

1.  Available Energy. (I'm not sure what this means) in ERGS?  Energy given off per gram per second?  What?  That non-GM corn is giving off a lot of energy!

2. % Brix is a measure of soluble sugar. The footnote says that "the higher the number, the higher the nutrition, energy and protein" The worst field corn is 10-15% and the good stuff that makes high fructose corn syrup is probably around 25%.  I don't know that a kernel would survive on 1%.  Clearly, this text comes from a non-expert, so the table and its contents were likely manipulated. 

3.  Wait a minute... there's more copper, zinc and iron than carbon in a corn kernel?  What?

4. % Organic matter?  I'd guess a corn kernel would be more than 1-2% ..... Somethings fishy... Something's wrong here.  These don't seem like numbers from corn...

THEN IT OCCURS TO ME when I hit pH and "Cation Exchange Capacity", then "Base Saturation"... THESE ARE NOT READINGS FROM CORN... THESE ARE READINGS FROM SOIL!!!


The table entries about glyphosate and formaldehyde are probably manufactured and stuck in there, but could be real.  Glyphosate is used in fields and decays away. Formaldehyde is found as a part of slow-release fertilizers because over time it decomposes to nitrogen and carbon-- stuff plants like.

Soil samples from two fields are compared but represented as nutrition content of corn to foment anger and fear. Typical anti-GMO. What more do you need to see to expose these liars? 


I'd like to think that someone like me maybe manufactured this chart and put it onto a website with a lame science filter with the idea of whipping the twits into a frenzy.  Maybe Big Ag realizes they can discredit the intellectually bankrupt, knee-jerk anti-GMO movement by getting it to implode by believing soil sample data and made up stuff as corn nutrition.

However, we scientists are generally not comfortable creating pseudoevidence to fool people. I'd rather teach than help them commit intellectual suicide, but I will let them sit in the gun in their mouth for a bit.

I think it is the sign of the death of a movement.  When the real data aren't there, scientists are speaking out against bad science (be it anti-GM, anti-climate change, anti-vaccination, anti-evolution) more and more.  I'm getting more and more emails, maybe 2-3 a week, about people flip a Lynas and critically evaluate the science and their movement... and siding with science.

This bogus chart insults the intellect of those that take the time to look at it and pushes away some of those it intends to misinform.


Nell said...

Thanks, I was trying to track some info about this and could find nothing. Soil. Makes sense.

Mary said...

Oh, I'm glad someone looked at it. I saw it going around too. And I saw some farmers laughing at the brix data--they said exactly what you said about the field corn.

You know, I am glad they are ramping up the crazee. I have decided that's the best thing about them--they are so gullible and it's so easy to debunk that they are never going to get taken seriously by anyone who spends even more than a second looking into the claims. Nevermind the regulators who actually have science and farm knowledge.

And they keep getting laughed out of court. Did you see the "natural" claim suit go down in flames?

"The 'all-natural' fightback? Judge throws out AriZona Iced Teas lawsuit and blasts 'dilatory' plaintiffs' counsel"

A decision by a judge to throw out a class action lawsuit alleging that AriZona Iced Teas are not ‘natural’ because they contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and citric acid, should give hope to scores of firms facing similar legal challenges, say experts.

This is a tactic they are using to claim GMOs are not natural in other suits too.

I wonder when they'll realize that mostly they are wasting their own time and money on BS.

Michael said...

Dang, Kevin. What would we do without ya? I wonder how long it would have taken me to notice the cation exchange thing (I'm a small farmer and regularly read soil samples.)

Unknown said...

I agree that this anti-GMO table is fake. You only have to look at the first item in the list to see that.

There is no evidence yet to show that a GM product is unsafe. I am skeptical however that continuous use of glyphosate does not have a deleterious effeect on soil. Is there any information on this issue?

This may be a bit off topic but since you made an aside at the end, I wish to comment.

I think it is the sign of the death of a movement. When the real data aren't there, scientists are speaking out against bad science (be it anti-GM, anti-climate change, anti-vaccination, anti-evolution) more and more.

Global warming was not on my radar until I saw an article some years ago that said that anyone who didn't believe in global warming was immoral. What?

Now it's called climate change. Why? Because there hasn't been any warming in 15 - 16 years. The CO2 level has been rising steadily during taht time though. Woudn't that make a scientist re-evaluate the hypothesis that CO2 cause global warming / climate change / climate disruption / extreme weather?

There are many articles about this paradox. This one is recent and has a couple of good graphs.

Kevin M. Folta said...

Hi Unknown.

You're right, it would be great to use less glyphosate. It's not awful stuff, but less is more and that's not the trend. Ultimately this technology should help us limit ag inputs, but that isn't happening now for glyphosate.

Global warming. Climate change is simply more precise. Global warming is a familiar term, climate change is a spectrum of symptoms.

If you look at CO2 and temp from a place like the Mauna Loa observatory (where there is 'pure' opportunity to read the atmosphere away from other continental influence) you find that the CO2 has never been higher in human times and that 2012 was the 10th hottest year since 1880, and certainly above the mean from the last century.

Remember that temperatures are not the only signs of change. Ocean pH, shifts in climate, etc are absolutely happening.

We just can't grown crops where we used to in the same seasons and can in other places where we never could. There is a massive shift in temperatures in the last 50 years.

I know this topic too... always glad to discuss.

Unknown said...

Global warming. Climate change is simply more precise. Global warming is a familiar term, climate change is a spectrum of symptoms.

That is nonsense. The term global warming is precise. The earth's climate is warming or it's not. Nothing ambiguous about that. The term climate change is a vague, meaningless phrase. Climate is always changing, weather is always changing, everything on the earth is always changing, everything in the universe is always changing. There is nothing permanent. Climate change replaced global warming because there has been no global warming for around 16 - 17 years. Even climate change didn't resonate sufficiently with people so it is being replaced with the scarier climate disruption.

You didn't respond to the nub of the issue. The global temperature has remained statistically constant for 16 -17 years during which time the CO2 concentration has gone from 365 ppm to 395 ppm. So is it possible that man made CO2 has little to no effect on climate? Any scientifically oriented individual would certainly entertain the possibility. That apparently doesn't fit with your belief. But wait. We have climate change. It explains everything - storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, cold weather, warm weather, no snow, lots of snow. The belief in climate change is a religion, not a science.

That's all I am going to say. Here's a reasonably balanced view of the subject. It's not current but still valid.

Let's let Al Gore have the last word.

Kevin M. Folta said...

unknown, you assume that increased energy is manifested as a change in ambient temperature. It is, certainly, but there are other effects too. Ocean temps, glacial melt, all of this stuff requires tremendous energy. You'll say that warming as stopped in the last 15-16 years, but I think that depends on who you ask.

I'm open to input on this one for sure, just like in any science. I read the big journals and their assessments of climate issues. The National Academies acknowledge the CO2-temperature link. I respect their synthesis.

I'll check out your links for sure. Thanks.

Kanga Jen said...

Hi Kevin,

Recently found your blog and appreciate it very much. I have not always paid much attention to the GMO debate, but have always felt it sounded more than a little overhyped. When I finally decided to dig in and find some credible talk on it, I quickly found your blog. I appreciate your non-hyped, scientific approach.

Also, I am a scientist in atmospheric sciences, and appreciate your assessment of climate change. Aside from simply looking at credible science sources, when someone is evaluating the validity of any claim, the idea that hundreds of scientists could be coerced into participating in a conspiracy to hide or fabricate the truth is the first red flag in the evaluation. All of these conspiracy ideas (GMOs, climate change, vaccines, fluoridation, artificial sweeteners, etc) seem to hinge at least in part on that idea. I find it laughable to imagine an entire body of scientists conspiring to do anything.

I've got you bookmarked and have shared this blog with some of my other friends...

Thank you!

Zachary Glimcher said...

Perhaps the following analogies are a bit abstract, and please let me know if they miss my implicit point, but there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to GMOs. While at a macro level, things seem different and distinct to our senses (First mistake: the general public relies on its five senses to make sense of the world and the universe, when our senses are not only inferior to most other animals, but they, in and of themselves, are blind, deaf, and inept generally). Science and math, however, are not. At a molecular level, things can be less distinct. A diamond made by heat and pressure in the earth has thus far been found to be identical to man-made diamonds. Elements are elements, and molecules are molecules. It does not really matter what is the source of he assembly, nature or man. I admit I am relatively ignorant in terms of the full scope of genetics, but aren't "artificially" engineered genes, or manipulations of them, just a more selective (precise?) equivalent of what nature does? Nature seems to use the 'guess and check' method, while man can make informed decisions. Since all of life has a single origin, it does not seem to me to be out of the question to combine ingredients from two different sources, which both originated from one source. I wonder if someone who is against a fish gene being inserted into a tomato, or a spider gene being inserted into a goat, would also, if in need, be against a replacement organ that was grown in a lab, or a replacement heart valve from a pig?

Are people unaware of the rate of progression of things on planet earth, or the universe? Even if data cemented that there has been no global warming in the last 17 years, even though carbon emissions have continued to rise, that would mean nothing. In the extremely short time that is the human life span, you can drink or smoke heavily for 17 years, and witness no effects during that time. I grow tired and bored of debating people who deny climate change, or try to poke holes in the theory where ever they can, just like evolution deniers. Therefore, all I would ask of those in denial, or those who are just against it, is why? Why are you against it? Assuming you are not the president of Exxon-Mobil, or the owner of a coal mine, what is in it for you if we laugh off then notion of climate change and continue to pollute as we currently are? On my side, even setting aside the notion of the world becoming unable to sustain life, remedying the contributors to climate change will make it so, on certain days, the entire country of China is not instructed to walk around wearing masks to shield themselves from polluted air, sporadic and increasingly violent storms will not threaten us, we are not likely to lose entire crops due to drought, like was the case last summer, Glacier National Park will continue to contain glaciers, the ozone layer, protecting us against skin cancer, will be preserved, and the natural world, and all the other creatures in it, which are at our mercy, will remain.

Ewan R said...

Of course one can wonder why various climate change deniers put such specific bounds on their "in the last X years" there has been no statistically significant changes in temperature.

Long time trends in noisy data break down when you reduce the period looked at enough. I've generally seen this more in a "in the past decade" than 17 years, but the result is the same - extend your dataset out a few years, hey look, all of a sudden it is statistically significant, extend further... wow, the significance increases - this is indicative of something real happening, this is why climate change (or whatever you want to call it) is accepted by scientists the world across.

The same happens in similarly noisy datasets (noisy, in part, because they're related!) - take a look at yield trends in corn or soy - you probably see nothing if you look at a 4 - 5 year period at any point in the past 30 years, however if you look at the past 30 years as a whole... different story.

TheOldTechnician said...

Wow, that non-GMO corn's giving off more energy than Plutonium 239!

Zen Honeycutt said...

I am the one who posted the report. It came from a NON GMO corn seed supplier who has his reputation on the line, so I weighed that against my Mom friends probably wanting to know if there is anything harmful in their food and decided to post it. " Better safe than sorry!" Better to know something might hurt us than to risk it. Our child's lives are not something we want to gamble with.
To your claims that it is a soil report, it is not. It is the first time that ( most farmers) have seen this kind of test done on corn, usually it is done on soil, so it looks like a soil report. But it is not.
Don't you wonder why Monsanto has not published report like this of their own comparing GMO and NON GMO nutritionally? They won't because they know what the results are. Wonder why they suddenly had the EPA raise the acceptable levels of glyphosate increased to 13 ppm a few months before this report came out showing 13ppm?
They knew.
Wonder why they got the Monsanto protection act passed?
They know that GMO food is causing harm to animals and people.
This report totally makes sense nutritionally. Glyphosate draws out the vital nutrients in living things, and the GMO corn doused with glyphostate is nutritionally bankrupt. The formedehyde is the shocker however....and what makes this corn hazardous.
To you remarks that I am alluding to miscarriages or birth defects and infant mortality due to GMO food, let me be clear. I am not alluding...look at Elizabeth Dougherty's interview of Dr. Huber who out right says that scientist have proven that a new pathogen in GMO soy which causes birth defects, miscarriages and infant death in animals and humans. In corn it draws out the vital nutrients of living things...what do you surmise happens to fetuses with no vital nutrients? Here is another fact for you from the Sierra Club...the USA currently has the lowest birth rate in recorded history, only 63 per 1000 child bearing women. The steepest decline is in immigrant women...who coincidentally eat the most GM corn and cheap GMO soy filler foods of all.
I just ask you...what do you gain out of saying that this report is lies?
Does it help you to discredit a Mom or corn seed farmer who are trying to support MOMs in caring for their kids?
What do you get out of this?
Because what I get out of this is nothing.
I am volunteer.
I love my kids...I get to protect my kids.
That's it.

TheOldTechnician said...

My Putonium comment was tongue in cheek but i did some quick checking and at 340,000 ergs per gram per second, the non-GMO corn really is putting out slightly more than twice the decay heat of Pu239 ! Pu239 puts out 1.9mW per gram per second while the non-GMO corn is putting out 3.9mW per gram per second.

If i were you, i'd gently put down the non-gmo corn and slowly back out of the room !

TheOldTechnician said...

@Zen Honeycutt

POsit that this pathogen is real, when drawing out all those nutrients, where are they going?

And wouldn't America's birth rate also be dependent on contraceptive use, which is much more readily available in this country than in most countries from which those immigrant women are coming from ?

Shi said...

What do you get to protect your kids from, Zen, critical thinking?

There is no way corn has more zinc than carbon. There is no way a CARBO-hydrate tops out at 2.1% organic matter. This is Organic Chemistry 101. This report does NOT make sense, and your claim that this test is "usually" done on soil but has now been done on corn sounds as unbelievable as trying to show someone a cardiogram of a liver and saying it's a new technique.

What does Kevin get out of saying this report is false? He gets to tell the truth.
That's it.

False information needs to be discredited, whether it comes from a mom or a seed farmer.

Ewan R said...

"Don't you wonder why Monsanto has not published report like this of their own comparing GMO and NON GMO nutritionally?"

One wonders what universe you inhabit in which the scientific literature is not full of comparisons of GM to non-GM in terms of nutritional content.

(as a for instance, although any animal finishing studies will have similar data)

madone78 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madone78 said...

Zen Honeycutt,
I don't know what your day job is but don't quit it and leave science to the scientists.
I believe Kevin clearly pointed out that it's not even possible for any corn, gmo or otherwise, to have more of some of those elements in it than organic matter. Period. This isn't the chemical profile of any corn or living organism.

"Here is another fact for you from the Sierra Club...the USA currently has the lowest birth rate in recorded history, only 63 per 1000 child bearing women."

--Yes, they linked the report but didn't assume that gm food consumption was to blame. And, btw, it's the lowest birthrate in US history; not the lowest anywhere ever. Germany currently has the world's lowest birthrate. Lower birth rates are the result of increased education, access to family planning services, etc. Birth rates were falling well before anyone started eating gm food.

So why is formaldehyde so troubling to you? Every time you eat a fruit or vegetable you are getting a little formaldehyde. It is then easily metabolized into formic acid and cleared out of the body. There are detectable amounts of formaldehyde in you right now. It plays a role in DNA synthesis. And solutions of it are also used in fungicides for soil. That's why there's so much showing in this data. Because it's data from a soil test.

"I just ask you...what do you gain out of saying that this report is lies?"

--A better question might be "What do you get out of believing lies?" Besides, you know, scammed and swindled?

Kevin M. Folta said...

Dear Zem Honeycutt,

First, please note that I will happily leave your comments on this page, unlike the censorship you have performed on your own website-- expunging my polite and scientific comments there.

The fact that you had to shelter your followers from science says a lot.

let me hit your points:

1. These are soil data. You have been fooled. The soil reflects artifacts of fertilization with slow-release fertilizers. I will find the source of these data and where they were stolen from in the primary literature. It just takes time.

Next, the most dangerous thing you can do to your children is teaching them non-critical thinking and fantasy as fact. You are teaching them to shun science and scientists. That's poison for the mind.

Plenty of reports showing nutritional, proteomic, gene expression equivalence have been produced. When you get transgenics against isogenic lines they are not so different, if at all. I'm happy to share sources, but you could have found these too, so I'm guessing you've made up your mind and don't care anyway.

Glyphosate "draws out vital nutrients"? Which ones? Please cite the scientific source of your claim. Journal, date, figure/table. Thanks.

Formaldehyde. What you are seeing here is from controlled-release fertilizers. However, you'll detect it in any fruit/veggie at some level. It is a natural part of metabolism and is broken down accordingly and excreted. It is not higher in GM/transgenic corn. Again, misrepresenting information.

NO. Huber has NOT "proven" he existence of a new pathogen. Such things are not published and the only people that believe them are those that stand to gain from ignorance and the anti-GM movement.

Others have addressed the birth issue well on this thread, so I'll defer.

Your comment, "I just ask you...what do you gain out of saying that this report is lies?"

I'll tell you what I get. I get the satisfaction of setting the scientific record straight. I get to teach people how to tell false, misleading information from reality. I've changed at least four people's minds about the anti-GMO movement just with this example. I'll send you the emails! They finally see the fraud! I'm glad you posted this.

Your comment, "Does it help you to discredit a Mom or corn seed farmer who are trying to support MOMs in caring for their kids?"

It does not help me. But I do help those that are trying to understand science and make science based decisions for their families. That's why ignorance and lies are not something I'll tolerate.

Again, your comment, "What do you get out of this? Because what I get out of this is nothing. I am volunteer. I love my kids...I get to protect my kids."

You are a volunteer for going to defend something more dangerous than anything I can think of. It is the development of mistrust of science and scientists. It is developing a fear of technology. My guess is that you accept technology when it suits you. I don't know, but you probably use a computer, have a cell phone, take medicine, etc. You also probably have the means and calories where you can fight science and scientists and smear a technology you don't understand or care to understand, even if it could help others.

I hope that you are not homeschooling your children so that they can learn science and facts, maybe become critical thinkers. They sure are not likely to inherit it genetically.

I'm always glad to answer your questions. Please send them to, or let me know if you'd like them answered here or on your blog.


Shi said...


I noticed the report has made its way to now, and they cite your website as a source. Did you contact them to tell them that there are questions about the validity of the report? Or is Moms still going to disseminate this report despite not being able to verify its source or its content?

I guess what I'm asking is, do you have a shred of integrity?

Ena Valikov said...

Ena Valikov This nutritional analysis makes NO SENSE whatsoever. No corn contains 1000ppm+ of Calcium and 4ppm of Carbon, unless the corn came from a calcium based life form from another planet. : (
9 minutes ago · Like

Ena Valikov I have been known to disagree with Kevn thousands of times, but on this specific scientific issue, he is absolutely correct. This is embarassing!

Illumination: Fake Anti-GMO Data Stokes Alarm!

TheOldTechnician said...

If you actually try to pin down where this so called report comes from, all links lead back to Moms Across America. MAA only reference is to an unposted email from a seed company.

Shi said...


The report seems to have originated from ProfitPro and appears in a informational dated December 6th 2012. The newsletter says "we will share our findings on the nutrient value of corn grown under a non-GMO versus GMO cropping program," which suggests that ProfitPro conducted the "test" as well. Not much else is discussed and interested people are invited to join a teleconference.

See the December 06 2012 newsletter here:

The table appears once again in their January 2013 newsletter, which you can see here:

Meanwhile, Natural News has started calling this a "paper," as in, "the paper found that non-GMO corn is 20 times richer in nutrition, energy and protein compared to GMO corn."

I also just learned that when you copy and paste something from NN it automatically pastes a link back to their website. Creeps...

Anonymous said...

Actually, that is correct in a roundabout way. What is in the soil is also in the plants. That's why after you use RoundUp you are not supposed to plant anything in that area for at least a month or longer: because it contaminates the soil, which contaminates the plants. You see, RoundUp is a systemic herbicide. That means it kills the plants from the inside out (as opposed to other herbicides, which are topical and kill from the outside in by preventing photosynthesis). The plant absorbs RoundUp (glyphosate) and it attacks it from within, killing it. GMO foods are engineered to RESIST RoundUp. Therefore, they still absorb it. It still attacks them, which is what causes the nutrient depletion. It just doesn't KILL them. RoundUp (glyphosate) remains in the plant and then you eat it.

Whoever wrote this article does not have an understanding of how RoundUp works and also does not know that glyphosate does NOT decay away, which is why RoundUp was forced to remove the word "biodegradable" from their packaging and was in trouble for false advertising. Guess who owns RoundUp?

I'll give you a hint: it starts with "M" and is the forerunner for GMO/biotech technology.

JimmyD said...

Yed, glyphosate is a systemic herbicide. It enters the plant through the leaves. It is not persistant in the soil. There are no plant back restrictions. In fact, in no-till systems the burndown application of glyphosate and planting often happen within a day or so of each other. Please check the herbicide label before spouting off your made up "facts".

Kevin M. Folta said...

Anonymous, (the last one). Others have refuted your points here so I'll briefly reiterate... glyphosate is not a good pre-emergent. You can plant asap. It enters via leaves, it is not sprayed on the ground, and even if it is there it has little impact.

Oh, and it does decay away. I'd post a scientific reference but it won't sway you I'm sure, as you'll tell me it is from the Monsanto Conspiracy. Let me know if you want it.

Ewan R said...

Disclaimer up front, I work for Monsanto (As a data analyst for a team working on improving Intrinsic Yield of Soy transgenically) and the jabbering below is entirely the product of my own diseased mind and not the diseased mind of my employer.

"It still attacks them, which is what causes the nutrient depletion."


"Whoever wrote this article does not have an understanding of how RoundUp works"

In the same post. How absolutely delightful.

Glyphosate specifically targets EPSP synthase, which is an enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway of aromatic amino acids. Inhibition of EPSP synthase prevents production of aromatic amino acids, and by this mode of action kills the plant (starving it of these AAs for protein production).

GM crops have both their endogenous (Glyphosate sensitive) and a transgenic (Glyphosate resistant) EPSP synthase, so when glyphosate is applied their endogenous pathway is shut down, but due to the presence of the resistant form the pathway can keep on rocking.

Your outside in/inside out craziness are just that also.

Glyphosate gets into the plant and binds an enzyme, thus killing the plant.

Photosynthesis inhibitors also get into the plant, bind a protein (Some component of PSII if I recall correctly, but I probably don't) and prevent photosynthesis.

Glyphosate starves a plant of Aromatic amino acids, the other herbicide you mention starves the plant of energy - both kill the plant in very similar ways when talking broadly, and certainly both are from within the plant.

So to sum up, I'll take the Dunning Kruger effect for $1000.

Anonymous said...

It seems no matter what, people want to argue this and take "sides" and people want to be right-to have their opinion validated. Sigh.

Even if GMO is proven to be ok nutritionally I still wouldn't eat it. Why? Because it is full of pollutants and that alone is enough reason. But there are more.

I also can tell from simple observation which corn is better. I am a small farmer. I put out GMO feed to my chickens and they will only eat it, if there is nothing else. Give them the choice and put out organic feed right next to the GMO, and they chose the organic feed every time. So what do chickens, who are not even that smart, as far as animals go know that we humans don't? I have repeated this many times, and each and every time, they prefer the non GMO feed. Huh.

I can eat GMO corn, and within minutes I can't breath. My nose is stopped up and glands slowen. Non GMO corn has no effect. When I eat meat from the grocery store that came from a feed lot, I end up with hot flashes due to the growth hormones. Organic grass fed beef has no effect on me.

And yes, chemicals in the soil occur naturally, all kinds, but why would I want to eat the massive amounts that are added by Monsanto? I wouldn't. Thank you very much.

I think there are probably "lies" on both sides, and they keep us off one of the the real issues, which is large corporations are taking over the food supply, in addition to our government-and GMO or not, this is not good in any supposed free society. So there are lots of reasons to not eat it, having nothing to do with nutritional value.

Ryan said...

The argument that Man can do better than nature is absurd. The ONLY reason we have GMO crops is greed. The law protects natural things from being owned. Monsanto has found a loop hole, by changing what nature has given us freely and creating a product that can be sold. Not to mention they get ride of there toxic waste. (By feeding it to us) To argue about the science is what Monsanto and all of its supporters want. Because they keep making money while we argue. Why have a Monsanto "protection Act"? Because they are worried the truth well get out before they can spin the data. Look Im not discounting what has been brought to light in this article, One thing is for sure, we don't know what the long term effects of GMO's will have on our planet. We have only been technological for a very short amount of time (100 years). Nature has been at it for trillions of years. Ill put my money on Nature.

Ryan said...

If Gmo's are safe, why are other countries burning GMO seeds and outlawing there use?

Shi said...

Hi Ryan,

If man can't do better than nature then why do so many people wear glasses?

If you look around, it's evident that nature was not created for us. We have always had to adapt and carve our way through it. Domestication of plants and animals is evidence of this. The vast majority of the things we eat today look and taste nothing like their original, wild counterparts, which were in some cases toxic before we domesticated them. If we can figure out a way to further improve our crops, why not try?

Monsanto did not invent plant biotechnology. As long as you let the actions of Monsanto speak for all of biotechnology, you are helping them maintain a monopoly on the field.

There are a myriad of social, political and economic reasons why other countries treat GMOs the way they do. Couldn't I also ask, "If women are considered equal, why do so many countries not allow them equal rights?" or "If homosexuality is not wrong, why is it punishable by death in so many countries?" Just because other countries do something doesn't mean they are correct in doing so. Brazil, for example, is a large producer of organic food, and sees GMOs as competition. That shapes how Brazil decides about GMOs. Haiti, just like many other poor countries, is strongly under the influence of activists, many of whom are anti-GMO for unjustified reasons. Imagine how sad, that in a country mired by malnutrition, people are talking about burning donated seeds. And lest you think Europe is always on the side of "better safe than sorry," while the U.S. still debates BPA, Europe insists it's safe.

So as you can see, different countries make laws based on different factors and assumptions. Bans on GMO say nothing about their satefy.

Ryan said...

Why do people wear glasses? People wear glasses for many reason, misalignment in the spine as a child, is one of the most common. Usually caused from being pulled out of the mother.
There are a myriad of reasons for poor eye sight. and in nature, there is the cure. The cure for all disease is found in nature.
People have been living on this planet for a very long time and did just fine without biotechnology. Unfortunately most people are unaware of the native people of this land and how they interacted with nature. You don't listen to their wisdom so you say it doesn't exist.
Are you naive enough to stand up and say with 100% conviction that GMO's are safe? If there is even a .001% chance they are harmful why use them? What is wrong with Nature? Any clam you could have against the perfection of nature would be a misunderstanding, and would be an effect of what man has done to nature. We can't keep up our ways and bypass the natural consequences of pollution, and our total disregard for the planet we all live on.
Thank you for responding , I respect your position, although I don't understand why you like GMO's. Is it because you are in the biotech field and like what you do? If so that's cool, I just think we should be very cautious about playing God (or who/what ever created nature), when we don't know what the implications of GMO/biotech will have on the rest of nature.

Shi said...

Hi again Ryan,

The ideology that you subscribe to is called Appeal to Nature, and it's not an ideology that I share, and it is just that: ideology. Just like all other ideologies, its basis is in how the world SHOULD BE, not how it IS.

I like and respect nature very much, am an avid gardener and love animals and the outdoors, but as I said before, I don't believe nature is trying to do me any favors. I think nature is neutral. We interact with it and manipulate it to get what we need. Sometimes it helps us, sometimes it hurts us. It's interesting that you should bring up the wisdom of the natives, as they are precisely the ones who manipulated wild corn to make it edible. There is nothing wrong with nature, but think about it, plants don't WANT to be eaten. That's why they produce sap and thorns and poisons and caffeine and nicotine and solanine and a huge list of other things to prevent being eaten by other organisms. That's nature. The natives manipulated nature to suit their needs, just as we are doing the same today.

The majority of humanity, especially since the industrial revolution, is not interested in simply surviving anymore--people want to LIVE. Things were HARD back then--why should we patronize and condescend our ancestors by pretending that they enjoyed going hungry and dying early? When I was a kid my grandmother would buy 4 pounds of herbs from the market and sit in the kitchen for hours and chop it. When stores started carrying frozen, pre-chopped vegetables, guess who was the first to buy them? Grandma. Because however nostalgic and beautiful the scene was to me, chopping pounds of herbs was a TOUGH JOB, and she would rather save herself a few hours and enjoy herself. That is where humanity is today. Of course we have tipped the scale at times and caused too much pollution, and we should correct that, but if you take a little time to be open-ended about GMO's, you will find that GMO's have the potential to reduce pollution, soil erosion, pesticide-, herbicide- and water-usage, etc. These things are GOOD for the environment. There's so much more to GMO than RoundUp. That is why I like GMOs.

No, I do not work in biotech (thanks for asking instead of simply accusing me of it--it wouldn't be the first, second, third, fourth or 10th time).
In regards to your question about safety: In the past decade there are have been THOUSANDS of cases of serious illness from the consumption of organic food. Would you call that 100% safe? Can you then say with 100% conviction to a mother for example, that her child will definitely never get sick from eating organic food? Hopefully you won't say that, because you wouldn't be truthful. Nor have organic foods ever been tested for safety, except for the informal record we have from years and years of eating them. Why do you want to impose a double-standard, where GMOs have to be 100% safe, but conventional and organic foods don't? I will not say with conviction that GMOs are 100% safe because nothing is, but I will say with conviction that GMOs are AS SAFE as other things we eat.

If you believe that everything you need in your life is present un-altered in nature, then by all means abstain from agriculture, pharmaceuticals, eyeglasses, and what have you (by the way, your statement that the majority of poor eyesight is caused by spinal misalignment is incorrect). But you do not have the right to impose this ideology on others.

Ewan R said...

Part the 1st (damn character limit... what is this twitter?)

“The argument that Man can do better than nature is absurd.”
I guess it depends somewhat on your definitions, given that man is part of nature the dichotomy itself is absurd, but let’s ignore that for the moment.
You appear, at least to me, to be conveying this information at fantastic speed across vast distances using man made devices. Can you explain why this might be when nature has equipped you with vocal chords and lungs and whatnot? Did man do better than nature here? The answer I guess is perhaps.
The why do people wear glasses bit popped up, which I think is a rather good “hey look, man is doing better than nature” but you countered that with what can only be interpreted as the utterly absurd “misalignment in the spine” – nature however does have a cure for everything (at a population level I guess) – premature death resulting in selection against genes which are causative of various predispositions to poor eyesight etc.
“People have been living on this planet for a very long time and did just fine without biotechnology.” The past was better, you can tell, they lived far shorter more brutal lives, not having to worry about the ravages of old age due to nature intervening by killing them in their 40’s. It was of course far easier to support a global population in the tens or hundreds of millions than in the billions also, but let’s just pretend everything was equivalent and that the noble savage is like, a real thing rather than a bizarre caricature.
“Are you naive enough to stand up and say with 100% conviction that GMO's are safe?” No, but I’m also not naïve enough to stand up and say that I am 100% confident the universe wasn’t farted out by a giant cosmic unicorn whose only desire is to see me eat bugs. I shall not, however, be eating any bugs, y’know, just incase!
“What is wrong with Nature?”
Where to start? Cystic fibrosis, cholera (linked there, thanks for that nature, you bastard), syphilis, parasitic eye worms, Crohn’s disease (a personal favourite of mine), peanut allergies, sickle cell anaemia, cat leukemia, cancer in all its multivarious forms, mass extinctions, still birth, volcanoes straight up and killing folk with no warning, pretty much all the native insect and reptilian species of Australia (what’s up with them!), Strychinine.

Ewan R said...

“Any clam you could have against the perfection of nature would be a misunderstanding, and would be an effect of what man has done to nature.”
Sickle cell anaemia, clearly an evolutionary trait evolved to protect 50% of population from malaria – both the evolution of the trait and the disease itself predate the industrial revolution or man being wildly separate from nature. Volcanoes straight up killing folk – pretty sure this occurred before, during and (will occur) after humankinds existence on the planet, mass extinctions, again, I’d question anyone who suggests that man somehow caused the mass extinction at the K/C boundary (or indeed the Permian, or indeed anything other than the current mass extinction the planet is experiencing)
“when we don't know what the implications of GMO/biotech will have on the rest of nature”
How do you ever do anything? You can’t know anything 100%, any of your actions may have a negative effect on the rest of nature, you haven’t convincingly argued that GM is in any way different to your opening the door in the morning and crossing the street, or taking a dump (what if one of the bacteria in your stomach has mutated such that it will destroy the rainforests? You can’t know for sure? Better start keeping that stuff in air tight jars and burying it in the garden right?). Although I’m sure you only apply the “You’ll never know” criterion to areas where you’ve already come to your conclusion but don’t have any, y’know, facts to back it up.
“Not to mention they get ride of there toxic waste. (By feeding it to us)”
What on Earth do you mean by this?

“To argue about the science is what Monsanto and all of its supporters want Because they keep making money while we argue. Why have a Monsanto "protection Act"? Because they are worried the truth well get out before they can spin the data.”

If the truth was against Monsanto the last thing they’d want is anyone arguing the science. They’d want that argument shut down right away, because the rather cool thing about science is that it hones in on the truth, which is, I assume, why the anti-GM movement is so against it, much like the Catholic church in medieval Europe – scientific investigation will only destroy your worldview.
“We have only been technological for a very short amount of time (100 years)”
Really? So we got all technological in 1913? This is a rather interesting spin on history. We can at least rest safely knowing that Monsanto (at least the original company) was founded 12 years before we became technological. Although one does wonder rather how a chemical company operated pre-technology.
“Nature has been at it for trillions of years. Ill put my money on Nature.”
Trillions? You’re at least 2 orders of magnitude out there also… science and history aren’t really your forte right? Magical thinking however… you may well have a career there.

“If Gmo's are safe, why are other countries burning GMO seeds and outlawing there use?”
Which countries are burning GMO seeds? Haitian demonstrators made a big deal of burning seeds, but at the end of the day the Monsanto donation of seed to Haiti following the earthquake was a massive success (I sat down and chatted with the person responsible for coordinating the whole effort some time ago in connection with a similar argument online) with farmers across the nation benefiting from the increased yield of hybrid varieties (not a single GMO was used, as the Haitian ag department said they didn’t want to have them donated, and respectful as ever Monsanto went along with their wishes)

Shi said...

Wow, a real life Monsanto employee. Oooh! Aaah! ;)

Ewan R said...

Shi - oddly that is how you tell if the conversation actually includes someone in the pay of big M.

Big M categorically tells their employees "Sure, engage in the discussion, but be transparent about who you work for, and make sure you let everyone know you are not making statements which represent the views of the company" (I'm pretty sure the PR department wouldnt touch me with a 10 foot pole as I'm a tad bit aggressive and unfriendly from time to time)

It makes a far better narrative for the reality challenged however to assume anyone who is against them is in Monsanto's pocket.

Anonymous said...

Read the more science orienated Seralini study from France 2012 of the impact of chemicals used on gmo foods the first long term study with glyphosate on corn with rats ...see more independent science sites for USA this is also a 'free'(sic)trade pushing issue such as the TPPA on other nations.

@PhysicsPolice said...

Thanks for this post. I came to a similar conclusion:

@PhysicsPolice said...

By the way, ERGS is a measure of soil viability. It stands for "Energy Released per Gram of Soil" when you burn it. See:

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Amee said...

This is cool!

Aileen said...

Hooray! I just saw the table today and the first thing I saw was it is undoubtedly a soil analysis!

MikeTheInfidel said...


You mean the Seralini study that was torn to shreds and laughed out of all the major journals for being junk science? The one where they picked a species of rat that was already prone to developing tumors, fed them either roundup-ready food or Roundup, and then gasped in shock when they developed tumors at exactly the same rate that was expected if they had just gone on normally with their lives?

Here, have an actual scientific look at this study:

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Anonymous said...

I've only ever heard the non-GMO side of things. I thought I better hear what actual scientists have to say!!! Although some scientists advocate eating Organic Labeled foods, it seems the majority of scientists know through facts and SCIENCE that GMO are safe and effective. GMO does make it possible to feed a population without risk of crop loss etc. But somehow it still doesn't seem right... I feel like I need a PhD to fully comprehend how GMO's work. If I needed a new kidney that was grown in a lab, I'd take it! I get the flu shot every year, I have my daughter vaccinated, I take vitamins... SO I'm 100% PRO-SCIENCE!!! I just can't wrap my mind around the fact that GMO's are better than non-GMO.

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