Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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 interpretation of the literature. 


My big complaint here is different.  You are screwing "organic" stuff.

The report was published in an online journal, the Journal of Organic Systems.  Hmm. JOS is an almost non-existent, web-based journal that does not even have an impact factor.  The JOS  has sponsors, one that is the Organic Federation of Australia.  They promote Seralini's work on their homepage.

This is the problem.  Right now the poor research is being used to manipulate the credulous and breed fear.  However, silently in the background there is a mounting discrediting of organic cultivation.  The legitimate science of organic production, a discipline built on low-input agriculture, is now becoming aligned with crackpot science, dubious reports, insane activists and politically-motivated manipulation of data.

I'm a fan of organic farming, a fan that understands its strengths and limitations.  Many small farms use these practices to reach niche markets and stay in business, and oftentimes produce a superior product to conventional.

I have colleagues that do great work in this area.

I fear that the continued hijacking of the organic label to vilify sound technology is only going to discredit a discipline that needs all the cred it can get.  A lot of people view organic ag as flaky and unscientific. That's just wrong and it is changing as good science makes that case.

My hope is that those that value organic produce and low-input agriculture, maybe even those that hate Big Ag, might realize that by hitching their wagon to horrible science their own interests are the ones that ultimately suffer.