Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2016

Eggplant Podcast Sparks Angry Response

My podcast has been up for over a year, now reaching 50 episodes.  In that time it has been a pleasure to cater to an audience of scholars and science enthusiasts.  I've deliberately kept the content hard with science, minimal with opinion, and sticking to the evidence.  I've avoided Big Ag products and focused on the good things technology can do.  

In general, the anti-GMO world has left me alone.  I don't find much negativity about the podcast online and the site itself is generally unmolested.  I do occasionally receive disparaging comments, but curate most of them out when received. This is an educational forum. 

So imagine my surprise when I posted this week's podcast on the Bt Brinjal (eggplant, aubergine).  The response was angry and vitriolic, both in submitted comments and in social media. 



The podcast comments section has a dozen comments like these, all unapproved. I'm not allowing an educational resource to become their cesspool. 

Some of the response on T…

The Eggplant that is Feeding the Hungry

This week's Talking Biotech Podcast is a beautiful story.  The eggplant (brinjal, aubergine) is an important food staple in Asia.  However, in places like India and Bangladesh it requires large amounts of old-school pesticides to grow, as pest pressure can destroy 100% of a crop. 

Scientists have introduced the Bt Protein into eggplants and have greatly mitigated insect pressures from burrowing insects. It does not solve all insect problems (bt is quite selective) but it has massively cut pesticide applications and provides farmers a better product at lower production costs. 

The two guests are Dr. Tony Shelton from Cornell University and science journalist Dr. Hidde Boersma. Together they tell their accounts of the technology and how it has transformed lives of poor farmers in an extremely poor country. 


Supporting FOIA Resistance

It would be a wonderful world if we didn't need to lock our doors.  It would be great if we didn't need passwords to protect our personal accounts online.  I would be overjoyed if we could be free, open and fully transparent in all aspect of our lives.  All open book. 

There is one minor problem. We can't trust everyone to do the right thing.  Some people are truly evil, and will hurt others for fun and profit, or sometimes to achieve a political motivation.  Because of this, we're forced to take steps to insulate ourselves from their malevolence.  Whether it is encrypted passwords or taking off your shoes at the airport screening line, we take steps to limit the harm from others acting unethically. 

US-Right to Know (USRTK) is a front group for interests sworn to end modern food production practices, contemporary genetics and safe approved chemicals. While claiming to act angelically in the public interest, they clearly act as a mallet of defamation, seeking to destroy …

Supporting FOIA Resistance

It would be a wonderful world if we didn't need to lock our doors.  It would be great if we didn't need passwords to protect our personal accounts online.  I would be overjoyed if we could be free, open and fully transparent in all aspect of our lives.  All open book. 

There is one minor problem. We can't trust everyone to do the right thing.  Some people are truly evil, and will hurt others for fun and profit, or sometimes to achieve a political motivation.  Because of this, we're forced to take steps to insulate ourselves from their malevolence.  Whether it is encrypted passwords or taking off your shoes at the airport screening line, we take steps to limit the harm from others acting unethically. 

US-Right to Know (USRTK) is a front group for interests sworn to end modern food production practices, contemporary genetics and safe approved chemicals. While claiming to act angelically in the public interest, they clearly act as a mallet of defamation, seeking to destroy …

Extension and Communication about BIotech

Dr. Paul Vincelli was a solid guest on the Talking Biotech Podcast.  This episode covers his experience in communicating topics in genetic engineering and climate change.  He gives some great advice and shares some wonderful experiences.  


Fighting Coffee Viruses

Coffee is an extremely valuable plant product, yet plantations are under duress from a variety of pests and pathogens.  Dr. Michael Goodin from the University of Kentucky speaks to Talking Biotech podcast about coffee ringspot virus, its threats and potential solutions.  Co-hosted with University of Missouri graduate student Nat Graham. 



The Irony in a Political Piece

Those who know me understand that I've never been a big fan of politics.  I've voted both D and R (and L and G too) over the years, depending on the office and issues. I get to know my Representatives in DC and the state. I really like my Representative now (he's an R by the way) and will be glad to vote for him in November. I cannot think of the last time I voted for a presidential candidate. I've voted against one several times, mostly because I worry about the composition of the Supreme Court and federal benches.  I'm registered as N - no party affiliation.  I don't get to vote in primaries. 


In a country of sharply divided political opinions, don't criticize leadership. You'll tick off 50% of people. That's sad, because we should always hold our leaders most accountable.
Yesterday I posted an article over on Huffington Post that has sent Trump supporters fuming.  I can't believe the angry emails, the screaming tweets-- especially from friends.

Silencing Unpopular Thought with Swarm Complaints

This story has been developing.  It started with a popular (70k member) Facebook site called We Love GMOs and Vaccines.  The site is run by Stephan Niedenbach and runs into the burning building of science ignorance.  While many of us find a softer, non-provocative touch as a way to expose the masses to science, WLGMOV pushes buttons, piles on some snark, and also shares information that is consistent with the scientific literature. 

Over the last month there have been coordinated efforts to foment action against the site.  A number of prominent social media sites provided step-by-step instructions on how to register a Facebook complaint so that the page would be withdrawn.  The results look like this:

Gloating about interruption of free speech.  Smooth move, Holly Moses. I'd never do that to you here. 

The WLGMOV site is down permanently, and Stephan is banned for 30 days. 
Here is the problem, and we see it again and again in non-scientific activist movements-- if you don't like …

Dr. David Gorski for 2016 Maddox Prize

Today is the last day to nominate someone for the Maddox Prize, a recognition that goes to the scientist that continues to operate at the public interface despite adversity.  I have watched the vicious and defamatory attack on Dr. David Gorski, and I submitted a nomination recognizing his contributions, despite the hostility he faces in defending science.

The harsh treatment of Dr. Gorski has littered internet searches with false and defamatory information about him. Front-page recognition of his efforts with this award would bolster his reputation as a scientist and physician, and counter the claims made by those that wish to silence his efforts. 


I submitted my nomination for Dr. David Gorski. Learn his story, the defamation that has happened in the last year, and consider writing a letter of support.  Submit here. 

David Gorski is a Professor of Surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Kamanos Cancer Institute.  He is a prolifi…