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.
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.