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Showing posts from July, 2015

How Pseudoscience Propagates

The paper published in Agricultural Sciences by Shiva Ayyadurai presents a hypothesis that transgenic soybeans are high in formaldehyde and deficient in glutathione.  The story is covered in the two previous blogs.  I reached out to Dr. Ayyadurai and suggested that he come to Florida, we grind some beans, and actually do the test. 

There has been no response, but he is certainly out playing up his findings as factual confirmation of formaldehyde in soy.  Read the headlines of the websites below:



That is not what the report claims, but it is what the authors want it to claim.  No data were presented on formaldehyde levels.


Again, overstating what the report says.  In both cases they emphasize "peer reviewed", showing the danger of predatory publishing. 

A credulous, scientifically-illiterate activist media basks in the joy of the conclusion-- even though it has no basis in reality.  The intent is to frighten people about good food. 
What does the senior author say?


The demand for i…

GMO Formaldehyde Challenge!

Last week Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai published a systems biology paper in Agricultural Sciences.  The report left much to be desired, and was critically analyzed here.   The anti-GMO activist community exploded with the news that "GMOs are full of formaldehyde", of course not realizing that the paper represented a deeply flawed and testable conclusion, that was not tested. 

Nowhere in the existing literature, where tens of thousands of plant products have been analyzed, did anyone find actual measurements that match the predictions. When your computer prediction is wrong, then why publish it? 

Because it did exactly what it set out to do-- create fear and controversy around technology that folks like Ayyadurai and his spouse, the fabulous Fran Drescher, fail to appreciate. 

Fran and Shiva have been vigorously defending the work online, with Drescher even making the bold (tired) claim that scientists are all just working "4 monsanto".  She's even been so bold as to demand…

Independent Big Ag Research - Lose/Lose!

Critics of agricultural biotechnology claim that there is no transparency and no independent evaluation of transgenic crop products.  Of course, there are many, many cases where academic labs are recruited to perform independent analyses.  

When independent results do not match the company results, the project is DOA, at least temporarily. 

When the independent results do match, and those scientists report them, they are admonished as shills of Big Ag.  The implication is that companies do not fund research, they fund the manufacturing of favorable results.



Damned if you do, damned if you don't. 
This came about because I found a website listing USA public universities and the funds donated to them by ag companies.  This is all public record.  The surrounding text said that university results could not be trusted because of financial influence. Who else should pay for the company's research? 
The bottom line is simple, independent research is valued because scientists have specific…

Munich is Not by Florida; Soy is Not High in Formaldehyde

If you developed a computer program that integrated internet data to predict the location of Munich, and the program told you it was squarely in the Gulf of Mexico, right off Florida, it does not mean that Munich is in the Gulf of Mexico, right off of Florida. 

It means that your program, your assumptions, or your input data are wrong. These things are quite testable. 

When you decide to not challenge those data, but instead publish a map showing that Munich is squarely in the Gulf of Mexico, opposing all other data and the claims of millions of rather dry Germans, it does not mean that you are brilliant.  It means you have absolutely no clue, or more likely, have some reason you want a major German metropolis to be a two-hour boat ride from Tampa.  

When you are the map publisher that actually prints the deceptive map, what does that say about your integrity as a reliable information source?  



If your computer algorithm predicts a major European city is closer to The Everglades than the …

Repeat a Lie Often Enough...

It was Nazi guy and photographic sour-puss Joe Goebbels that might have said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."  Nobody really knows for sure that it was The Goebbler, and ironically this quotation has been ascribed to everyone from Hitler to Martha Stewart. 

It does encapsulate the phenomenon spawned by the 2011, long-debunked paper by Aris and LeBlanc, claiming to detect the BT protein (presumably from transgenic crops, but that control was never done) in fetuses and pregnant mothers. There have been a number of brilliant discussions of why this work is not credible, posted here, here, here. here and here.  I even discussed it here

One of them is from New Zealand and the other from a French dude, two classes typically not immediately disqualified as corporate lackeys. 

But those facts don't get in the way of GMO Free USA, a group that latches on to any report it can manipulate, regardless of its authenticity or s…