Friday, December 27, 2013

Demanding a Right to Know

In discussions around biotechnology and food labeling there have been three recent cases where people have demanded a right to know what's in their food, but then declined a kind offer to learn when I actually offered to help them.  The right to know is an empty mantra, three words that sound like they are pursuing freedom and information.  However, at their root there is no desire to know-- just a desire to believe.

*NOTE 1/4/2014 UPDATE BELOW*

Here I'll present Case 1.  Hofstra Debate Follow Up- The debate at Hofstra was quite one sided from my perspective. One side was about fear, Gish gallops and bad activist information, the other side was tethered with science. You can guess the side I was on.  One of the debaters was Bhavani Jaroff, a local chef, radio personality and food activist.  Her debate style was to discuss the most shocking activist statements, parroting garbage science and bad conclusions, following the party line with great precision. She stood firmly on Seralini's rat paper being retracted because of Monsanto, stood by the veracity of the data, and also used the widely debunked Aris and Leblanc "Bt in the umbilical cords and pregnant women" shock language.

I do appreciate Bhavani. While I found her critical evaluation of the literature as empty as the rest of the anti-GM movement's, I do like what she's all about at the core-- teaching people to eat better food and educating them about where food comes from.  That's something we agree on 100%.  The problem is that she's sold out to the vilification of biotechnology and is convinced that it is evil poison.

Plus, I had a great time talking to her before the event and at dinner afterwards.  She's obviously bright, but simply is a victim of cultural cognition-- in this case, if I'm going to believe that eating healthy is important, then I have to be opposed to biotechnology, no matter what the scientific evidence says.

During the debate there was a point where one side gets to ask questions to the other.  She held up Seralini and Aris and Leblanc as evidence to support her position. I asked her two questions, both about the papers, their data, methods and interpretations.  She had no clue, and obviously had not read the papers she presented as evidence, or at least did not evaluate the statistics and controls with any scientific resolution.

I felt pretty bad making her feel like a deer in the headlights with hard science questions, but if you're going to use that trash as evidence, then you have to be able to defend your position.  I would never have been so pointy about it at a dinner conversation, but this was a debate where hearts and minds could be swayed, so I was compelled to expose the empty analysis of an ardent anti-GM local hero.

Afterwards I did follow up with her with a kind email.  Certainly I respected so much about what she (here it comes) brought to the table. Is she just missing key information and want to know, or is she subscribing to and ideology with all of its scientifically bankrupt claims?

She certainly is intelligent enough to confront science if it is offered, and I do think she'll flip like Lynas in a heartbeat once brought to learn the evidence. But it is not going to be that simple.

I post the offer letter here, sorry for the small type, but I summarize below.

 A kind offer to explain the science, and a reminder that Ms. Jaroff and I were really on the same side of a very important issue- food and nutrition.


I offered to explain the science and walk her through the papers that were the foundation of the evidence in her presentation.  My offer was sincere.  From the little bit I knew about Bhavani I completely anticipated resounding cooperation, that she'd be thrilled to have time to discuss how a scientist reviews literature and determines that it is flawed. 

The email I got blew me away.  It started with how we'd have to "agree to disagree because I love the work of Jeffrey Smith and Vandana Shiva".  She then noted how science is not always right and cited margarine and DDT. She also reminded me that she can't understand why someone would want to block another's right to know. 

There you have it.  It frames my argument perfectly. I'm all for people having a right to know.  But if you want to know, you have to want to know facts.  You have to demand to know reality.  You have to desire to learn science.

I do not want people to have a right to know, if they opt to be deceived.  To know something wrong and promote it, is worse than knowing nothing at all.

As a scientist and humanitarian, I'll do my best to stop someone from sticking their head into a wood chipper, no matter how much it is their right to do it.

A right to know must go hand in hand with a desire to learn.  If you choose to only know the bad information, the lies and the distortions presented by Smith and Shiva, then a science-based right to know is meaningless.  If you don't want to know the science, if you want to 'agree to disagree' that science is better than activists belief, then what good is a right to know?

In other words, why do you want a right to know, when you already know everything?


** Update **

In fairness, I did receive an email from Bhavani on Dec 31 or so asking about the Gene IV issue.  I was glad to explain.  It is a good point that runs contrary to her original position and certainly says that my blog here may have overstepped the situation.  I'll always be happy to explain the science going forward, and hopefully this one question will be the basis of many more.







Saturday, December 7, 2013

Someone Forgot to Tell Me...

When does the crazy misinformation machine stop?

According to this thread over on AgTalk, I'm in the process of being censured, that is, that I'm in the process of receiving a strong formal criticism and reprimand for information stated.  So far, nobody bothered to tell me!


Censured? I think they have it backwards. I'm being heavily supported to moving up in our institution. 


As the caption above states, I've been interviewing for the Chairman position of the Horticultural Sciences Department, 50-some faculty over locations all over our state, the #2 hort crops state in the country. I've had support throughout my department and upper administration.  In fact, I had to be convinced to do it.  I've actually been in the job for a year, but only as an interim appointment. 

The post also claims that I interrupted and badgered Huber, that ultimately he told me off and the audience applauded.

Just wait. Let's let this continue to stew for a bit.  I just listened to the audio, it is amazing how I didn't interrupt.  All you hear are the unabated ramblings of Huber. Video does too, and soon we'll see what actually happened.

The take-home message is that here's a post again meant to harm reputations and draw suspicion, as well as support the claims of Huber's mystery pathogen. 

Let's revisit this one in a year.  Shall we? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

When they are trying to tear you down in cartoons, while distorting the scientific message and lauding the deception of a phony, you know you are doing something right.

When Huber publishes his groundbreaking story on the new pathogen I'll happily apologize for my skepticism, but I don't think I'll receive the same courtesy. 


It is also interesting that the kind hearts of they anti-GM movement now have me planned for a dart board and claim I'm all for hurting children.  Plus, the sophisticated use the word, "retard"

The scientifically illiterate hate Folta, but they loves them some Shiva! One of them is lying to you.


Once again a reminder that if you can't legitimately question the science, attack the scientist.  My request to Dr. Huber was simple and from a kind place of assistance.  It is unfortunate that the anti-GM movement found it offensive that I'd point out that the emperor literally wears no lab coat. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Huber's Takedown- A Group Effort!

Over the last few days the emails have been coming in.  Notes of thanks and congratulations have arrived from all over the state, the nation and the world for publicly exposing Don Huber and his magic organism as fiction.  To recap, I saw him speak live, asked him to share the organism so we could sequence it, and then watched him pirouette through painfully awkward nonsense.  When I get some time I'll post the live audio here.

I'm quite uncomfortable here.  Not for throwing someone under the bus for spreading misinformation, rather, that this was just the most recent salvo in an ongoing call-out of Dr. Huber and his mystery pathogen.  The story really starts long ago with efforts over on Biofortified.

The criticism against Huber has been rich at Biofortified.org.  My recent foray is simply an extension of previous efforts. 


Anastasia Bodnar blogged about this almost three years ago.  Karl Haro Von Mogel spoke with Huber for two hours by phone, two years ago.  When encouraged to release the pathogen for wider science study, Huber claimed that the manuscript was in the works and would be published soon.

When I learned that Huber was coming here to Gainesville, FL to spread his nonsense I wanted a good plan.  If I came out salty and swinging I'd alienate the audience, and audience already skeptical of biotech and certainly accepting of Huber's trash science.

I contacted Anastasia and Karl about what questions I should ask.  Certainly I had ideas, but wanted to get their expert opinions.  Karl reminded me of asking Huber to release the organism.

That's where I thought to extend an offer to sequence it. Rather than getting something from him, I'd collaborate with him, and instantly solve this important "crisis".  It then went on to the petition to ask Huber to release the organism on change.org.

The fact is, there is no secret mystery pathogen.  Huber's out on the circuit fooling any room full of concerned citizens he can find.

That's sad, sick and wrong.  It is not the way we do science, not the way we represent science, and we never should twist science to suit some political end.

Without Anastasia, Karl, and Biofortified the stage would have not been set for that crushing takedown of pseudoscience. I just was in the right place at the right time to tip it in.

This illumination of Huber's sham is only in the first phase.  Watch for the next shoe to drop this week...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Generous Offer to Dr. Huber -Turned Down

This is the beginning of the end of this particular sad tale of fear mongering and misinformation.

Anti-GMO darling Dr. Don M Huber is on a tour of the Sunshine State, giving two talks in Tallahassee and one in Gainesville.  In Tallahassee he got a rock-star's welcome with coverage on the news describing how dangerous GMO food is, and a meeting with politicians.  On my calendar November 12 had a big red circle on it for some time. Huber was in town tonight to tell his story of poison food and deadly new organisms.  I went with one of my favorite organic & sustainable extension/research faculty and had a GREAT time.

I never saw Huber's whole shtick.  It starts out about the failures of biotech and the crisis and danger from glyphosate.  A lot more on the details of his talk later.  Seriously, it was a science abortion.

A significant portion of the presentation addressed his mystery organism.  He allegedly has identified this novel not-quite-a-virus, not-quite-a-fungus plant-animal kingdom-hopping pathogen in 2005, according to his slide.  He attributes this organism to widespread plant harm, problems (like abortion) in cattle and a slide of disorders in humans.  The audience was amazed, a new infectious agent, probably made in the Monsanto dungeon.


The kicky title "Failed Promises; Flawed Science; Interactions of Glyphosate and GMOs on Soil, Plant, Animal & Human Health" a presentation by Dr. Don Huber at the Civic Media Center in Gainesville!


At the end of the talk I was identified in the room by Marty from Florida Organic Growers as someone in favor of biotech and we had a good smile and a certainly civil introduction.  Marty and others don't realize that I support all kinds of low-input ag and defend organic all the time. Still, all very nice.

He asked me if I had any questions for Dr. Huber.  "I have a lot of questions," I said, "But I want to start out with a kind offer."

STOP HERE.  ALL OF THIS CONVERSATION IS ON VIDEO AND AUDIO RECORDING.  EVERYTHING HERE CAN BE VERIFIED. 

Here's what happened.

"I offer to sequence the genome of the pathogen and identify what it is," I said.  "If Dr. Huber could kindly give me a small amount of the culture we could identify this new life form before Christmas."

I'm not bluffing here. We could do that.  I could pay to have the libraries made and get several lanes of Illumina sequencing done in a few weeks. We'd get several hundred million 'reads' (small bits of data) that could be computationally assembled into a whole genome of his novel organism, if it actually existed.  If it was real, we could have 300-fold coverage of its sequence.  Completely do-able, and I'd pay for it.

"So can you send me cultures?" I asked.

What do you think his answer was?  After a ten minute talk about the organism and how it is killing cattle and causing problems he said he would not send it.

I said, "Don, you say this is a crisis, that a new pathogen is causing disease in humans and plants, and you won't release it to the broader scientific community for eight years?"


It's tough to read this blurry slide, but my hands were shaking so hard from the blatant abuse of science and deliberate confusing correlation with causation, this is the best I have. I was livid.  he also blamed GMO and glyphosate as the causal agents of Morgellan's, as "agrobacterium has been identified in the muscles of the affected"  Ugh. 


He assured me that he had an international team working on it.  When pressed for collaborator names he said he could not reveal them because they would be threatened.

I said, "But I can solve this mystery in a month. People are dying, kids are suffering... Let's solve this mystery."

He went on to say that if he relinquished the new pathogen that I'd be threatened and others would be too.  I told him to meet me in a parking lot and hand me an unmarked tube, that I'd take the heat, that I am not afraid.  If I was threatened, we'd blow the roof off of the conspiracy.

He shifted gears.

"You can culture it yourself very easily," he said.

At this point people in the Huber-friendly audience were getting annoyed with his evasive nature. "Why can't you just give it to him?" one person asked.

I asked him to send me the culture protocols and instructions on how to isolate it.  He then said that I could probably not isolate it, that it is probably a prion.

THIS WENT ON AND ON FOR 15 MIN.  He's not sharing his finding with the broader scientific community. Period. 

I was frustrated and all he did was deflect and misdirect. I offered again and again to sequence the organism.  He went back and forth about whether it was even an organism, he said at one point that "it has no DNA", said at another point that I could never culture it.  It was 100% obfuscation.

Clearly the audience was seeing through his garbage at this point.  I wish there were 1000 people there to see his slimy gymnastics. One farmer in attendance afterwards said, "If someone is at that put up or shut up point and they keep making excuses of why they can't put up, you know something isn't right."

To add insult to injury I talked to Huber afterwards and asked him about the replication of the "Stunning Corn Comparison" that he finked out on with Vlieger and Ho, after I pressed them for an independent replicate.

"Go do it yourself!" he said as his handler walked him out the door.
****

The best part is that a room of interested and passionate people got to contrast how garbage science and real science behave in real time.  I offer to do the work, my efforts are blocked with threats of threats, alleged technical impasses, and restricted distribution of the materials-- materials he says cause disease and death.

****

In the early 1980's a new disease called GRID was infecting many people, primarily IV drug users and men in the gay community.  Scientists sprung to action to identify the source of this horrible pathogen. A few years later after hundreds of international efforts set out to identify the causal agent, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus was identified and published in Science by two independent groups. 1983.  A couple of years, 30 years ago when we didn't have nearly the tools we have today.

Within a few years we knew HIV's epidemiology, the structure of the virus, the way it spread and evaded the immune system.

This is how science works.

Huber has a pathogen he says causes massive human disease and plant death.  He will not release it to the wider scientific community for further tests, even after eight years of no publications or any signs of progress.

But he'll jet set around the nation scaring people into believing his story. This should speak volumes.  It did tonight, and in a room not usually warm to biotechnology.

What I saw him do tonight was scare people for two hours with frightening slides, no controls, speculation, outright bogus claims, flawed logic and straight-up fear.  Concerned heads around me nodded in acceptance, taking his authority as a credible source of information. I was so mad watching him misrepresent science and flat out spread misinformation to an interested audience.

It stops here. I want to shine light on his false claims and starting with his pathogen is step one.  I'm really angry about the distortion of science and the use of science to build fear.  Here comes the science hammer.








Sunday, November 3, 2013

Anti-GMO Activism in China- Exploiting Resident Fear

The anti-GMO movement is corrupt in that it does not change minds with hard evidence, it changes them with fear.  It uses the most powerfully motivating emotion to drive an intellectually bankrupt agenda.

In the West, what are our biggest fears? We don't worry about where our next meal is coming from, the well being of our farming industries, or if everyone has enough to eat.  We worry about our personal health, about obesity, degenerative disease, or cancer.  We worry about increasing prevalence of disorders like autism, allergies, asthma, Alzheimer's disease. These are the fears in the industrialized world. 

Knowing this, opponents of biotechnology will play off of those fears.  Look at their rhetoric. 

Transgenic technologies cause every problem known to man.  As you can see, we never had any of these problems before the use of GM foods. Stay hot Jeff!   from Genetic Roulette


China is home to 1.2 billion people and growing. They grow plenty of GM cotton, and cite lower pesticide application rates and other benefits. They also are generating a pipeline of transgenic technology, and the government is comfortable with ramping up these efforts to feed a growing population. 

Anti-GM activists cannot advance their agenda if governments worldwide adopt, expand and benefit from the technology.  They need to block progress. The companies of Big Activism, like Greenpeace, have active tentacles in these countries to organize against the technology.  Just like in the USA.

A protester stands with a bowl of Monsanto's famous GMO rice.
Oh, they don't have that yet.  But it is good to frighten people! 

But unlike the USA they cater to a different set of fears.  In China people are not nearly as obsessed with health problems. The mindset is a bit different.  They don't have widespread obesity, allergies, etc. The principle causes of death are stroke, coronary heart disease, lung disease, lung cancer, traffic accidents and liver, esophogeal and stomach cancers.

What is their biggest fear, especially in the younger generations?  Reproduction. 

With rules and incentives to decrease family size most young Chinese couples are parenting only one child.  Having a child is a massive priority, so this "you've got one shot" approach is quite troubling to many. Right now the biggest bubble in the Chinese population structure is 25-35 years old, in the child-bearing window.

Infertility is on the rise and has been for the last four decades.  Currently 12.5% of couples are unable to conceive. It is so important that women unable to conceive are looked upon with disdain and pity. Inability to carry a child has been the basis of divorce, and unregulated IVF clinics are popping up everywhere.  The reasons for soaring infertility are unknown, but are are hypothesized to be based on pollution, environmental toxins, later parental age and stress. 

But if you ask a 20-something on an urban street they will tell you the main problem is GMO food. In 2000 this was not a concern, and GM foods were looked at favorably.  Currently in China corn and soy are the only transgenic imports and they are strictly regulated and used only for animal feed and oil processing, so people are not directly consuming the products at this point. China is developing its own GMO rice and corn.

Still, in Chinese anti-GM social media it is widely reported that people in the USA do not eat transgenic soy and that the imports into China are a kind of "soft bomb", a plot to limit reproduction and kill people with cancer. 

Xiaoyu Wang, a leader of the Heilongjiang Soybean Association, made the claim that imported GM soybeans from Argentina and Brazil cause sterility and cancer. Of course, without evidence. His organization grows non-GM soybeans.  Sound familiar?

Scientists in China clearly unite around the potential utility of the technology and the government is trying to promote more development of transgenic solutions to environmental and health problems. Monsanto and other western biotechs see China as a huge growth opportunity, so the Chinese government obviously would like to use home-spun technology. We'll see how that goes. 

As time goes on watch how activist groups conceive new means to fertilize fear around human reproduction in China.  More importantly, note how this approach shows how science can be distorted to optimally play off of they fears of a population to maximize benefit to an activist agenda.





Monday, September 2, 2013

Kauai III -- The Sweet Side of an Island Divided

*** NOTE- I prepared this blog entry a month ago after returning from Kauai, the day after I posted the angry messages I received, but neglected to post it.  I really regret that because this was meant to be the contrast to the anger.  This one is about the kind side and a common goal.***


As I watched the island of Kauai disappear in the airplane window I was a little sad at what I left behind.  It is a beautiful place with wonderful people for and against biotech-- for and against Ordinance 2491.  The companies brought me out there because I reach out and try to talk about the science.  When you reach out softly, you can't be surprised when someone kindly reaches back.

greet 2491.jpg
This picture from the day of the public hearing speaks volumes. You can't tell if the Rivera bothers are arm wrestling or shaking hands from both sides of the issue. Do any of us know?  In reality, we just don't want either one to lose. 
photo credit: Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island
(Hi Fern!)

My last post was about the the threatening, angry and viscous.  It made reference to a handful of angry and maybe evil emails I received since appearing on KKCR radio.  To me, it was science time.  The first 20 minutes were full of understanding. So good. It turned a little sour after 20 minutes and that's fine.  It rattled a few cages if the dozen emails I received are any indicator (I gave out my actual email on the air, so that 'splains it).

Since I've returned I've enjoyed great emails and Facebook exchanges via messages with several people on the island.  After a few back-n-forths it ended in an offer to visit and some understanding that we all are on the same side- we just disagree on how to get there.  I can live with that because from there we can adjust.  It is not the hard line of 2491-- "GMOs kill", "companies are evil", etc.

There still are some that were provoked by a scientist speaking from evidence that was inconsistent with their worldview.  Some of them had the desire to fire off angry emails.  That's fine.

Throughout the trip I met with many that had concerns.  Deep in my science brain I knew that their concerns were based on thin data and perhaps misinformation.  Still, these were humans, mostly wonderful caring people that I was glad to meet.  Their concerns were real and deserved answers.  Corporate seed farms are there, but the good dialog was always missing.  You can blame the companies or you can blame the people, but my feeling is that both need to do a better job at fostering understanding.

Yes, I received a few nastygrams.  They didn't phase me. They were lost in the kind thoughts on Facebook, twitter and various blogs. There were also people that thanked me for coming and others that just appreciated me interacting and not being a complete jerk.

Even one of the leading and most visible anti-GM activists left a nice message and her phone number on my work voicemail box.  You know who you are. I've enjoyed great dialog with others via Facebook and social media.

To the companies and the concerned residents-- you are in this together.  Nobody wants to poison children or harm the environment.  The companies are populated by people, with families and a community, that honestly believe in humans first.  They have children there, they love the place and the people.  You can wave a middle finger at the nameless faceless Wall Street symbol and that's fine.  But those companies are made up of people that care, in a wonderful home, on a beautiful island that worry about tomorrow.

Kauai is a special place with a special problem, the collision when an abstract and on-the-face creepy science meets a pristine environment.  It is time for everyone to dial it back a notch.  Decide where you can agree.  Decide how to find experts that can guide science on the island and ensure its safety.

I feel bad saying, "This is your problem, you sort it out", but I'd like to see this come to a good conclusion. Ordinance 2491 is not the solution. I'd personally like to see citizen concerns and corporate responsibility meet somewhere in between.  Let science be the guide.

If we trust facts, science and reason we all win-- as does the Island of Kauai.


*** Last note in proof.  One month after I've been there I enjoy almost daily interaction with those on the pro-2491 issue, and can't wait to visit them on a return trip. Even those that have reputations as being aggressive anti-GM personalities have been kind and reasonable lately.  Hope to see all of you again.***



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

High Weirdness and Heimliching

I would not believe it if it did not happen to me. 


I get an email, out of the blue, that makes zero sense.


Even though I have no idea about what this is, I don't hesitate to invite myself for lunch and talk about trees...



So Sue writes me back, looks like lunch time!!


She then calls me and it turns out that she's at a conference down the street and there's an opportunity to network with a palm breeder.  He's bred new types of palms high in healthful oils, but they can't grow them in Florida because it is too cold.  These are equatorial trees with no cold tolerance. Still, maybe there's some cool tricks we could do to make it work here.

Unfortunately I had to decline because lunch was scheduled for 12:30, but was delayed because the conference was running late. I had an errand to run and then be at a graduate student orientation meeting at 1 pm.

I was driving on my way to the errand when my phone rings.  It was Sue, and it turns out that they moved the lunch up an hour to 12 noon.  I was literally in front of the conference center where the lunch was being held, the timing now worked, so I turned into the driveway and went in for lunch.

We all gathered a plate from the buffet and I sat next to the palm breeder.  We had a good conversation about hybrid palms and potential use for oil plants in Florida.

Suddenly he starts making a grunting noise.  He does it again and it is clear that he's choking.  Just as I learned, I stood behind him, gave him two blows between the shoulders with my the palm (go figure) of my hand, then reached around and delivered the Heimlich maneuver.

The blockage cleared.  He sat, took a deep breath, and I sat down and shaky from the adrenaline rush.

******

When I look back at the strange turn of events that placed me in to the right time and place, it is pretty amazing.  But do you want to know the weirdest part?

The lunch was in the exact same room of the conference center where I took the CPR / Heimlich class.














Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fake Websites, Fake E-Mails- New Tactics in the Fight Against Science

Beware.  The underhanded elements of the anti-GM world are now impersonating scientists and companies in the electronic media.

A few weeks ago I received a frantic email from a plant scientist I know needing advice.  I'll give details soon.

In general, he was the organizer for a plant biology conference where transgenic (GMO) plants were part of the discussion.  Activists bought a URL similar to the conference URL, then sent emails using a corresponding email account, using his name in an attempt to defame him.

They wrote fraudulent emails with harmful content.  The idea was to cause harm to his reputation and the conference. Several emails were sent that may impact his career, and certainly they have caused him substantial grief.  Poor guy.  He's a good guy with a great family and wonderful students.  Yet there are those out there that want to hurt him and damage his career.

Today a website showed up on the internet at www.monsantoglobal.com .  This site is a direct mock-up of the Monsanto's template but the content has been changed to reflect incorrect and even malicious information.

Fake websites that look authentic.  Impersonation is the most sincere form of flattery. My guess is that there will be a little lawsuit coming down on this one. The big MON usually ignores the harassment, but this may have crossed the line. 


This is copied right from the page:

MYTH:   Fear exists around what’s popularly known “terminator” seeds, which are developed and commercialized to only be used once a year.  Farmers will not be able to harvest these seeds for future growing seasons and will have to buy them from Monsanto every year.
FACT:  Although it is true that we are developing these seeds, Monsanto needs to protect our products.  As the trailblazers in the development of GMO seeds, Monsanto maintains a legal right to protect and charge for our biotechnology.
MYTH : The creation of pesticide-resistant crops opens the door for new “super” pests that might be resistant to pesticides.
FACT : Monsanto spends over 2 million dollars a day in research in order to maintain itself as leader in the technology in pesticide production. We are devoted to staying a step ahead of nature and providing our consumers with the best quality products for all of their growing needs.

The bottom line is that these are boldfaced lies.  There is no "terminator" seed and Monsanto is not even a "leader in the technology of pesticide production".    Absolute crap.

What this tells me is that when you can't convince people with fake science, they need to impersonate scientists and biotech companies in an attempt to deceive.

So when you get the insane email from Kelvin Folate please consider it with the greatest of skepticism.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TH121 Infomercial- Anti-Aging and Weight Loss!

Today I'm listening to the hardcore right-wing radio station in town, the SKY WSKY 97.3 in Gainesville Florida. As I've posted before, although they want the 10 commandments in every classroom and courthouse in the USA, they spend the weekend as the vectors of bearing false witness. They run a series of fake medical radio shows that actually are infomercials for bogus health items.

Today I heard the claims of TH121, on a commercial posing as a radio show called "Ask The Doctor" hosted by Charlie Robbins. If by "ask" they mean staged phone calls and if "doctor" they mean the company selling a vitamin and making claims about it, then they are 100% honest.

These a-holes really make me mad. They had caller after caller phone in, without ever offering a dial up number. Each caller lost weight, and fast, without dieting and exercise! One caller claimed 9 pounds in three weeks! Then they say that there are no side effects, that is is "safe" and "FDA Approved".

Check Google- there's no Charlie Robbins and the only thing you can find about "Charlie Robbins Ask the Doctor" is a complaint that the free trial of this product are not free when you call in. You have to pay for two months and then get one free. Apparently they say it is a mistake in the commercial. I'll check that later.

A bit of research shows that TH121 is just some acai berry extract, an antioxidant to be sure, but the medical claims are not supported by the scholarly medical literature (just by Oprah).

Give them a call. 800-966-9368. Ask them when you can call into the Charlie Robbins show and maybe if you can have the free product. It will never happen.

Seattle Workshop? Our Proposal's Fate.

You may remember that I submitted a proposal to give an "ask a scientist" workshop at the Seeds of Justice get together in Seattle, Aug 1-2.  The event has all of the usual suspects that will throw the usual crazy kerosene on the imaginary biotechnology fire.

My hope was to get all of the angry anti's in one place and just answer their questions honestly. Anastasia Bodnar, Jon Entine and I were excited to participate, even in a likely hostile forum. Certainly they'd be whipped into a frenzy by Smith, Shiva and the laundry list of non-scientists pontificating as experts.  What a great time to talk to them about science, how we do it, and what it says.

So what was their response?

Crickets.

Crickets.

Crickets.

No response.

Seeing as though we would need to plan, buy tickets, arrange lodging etc, it is not something we could do overnight.  It would be a significant expense for us to participate, but we were willing to take this on if given a forum to do some public education.

I actually gave them more credit than I should have.  I honestly thought they'd have us out for a discussion.

"Lo, come to Me, oh smelly waves of the credulous! I will teach you to fear, teach you that scientists are evil, and that you are all being poisoned. And buy my book on the way out"


On second thought, the survival of their club relies on suppression of evidence, turning a blind eye on science, and feeding a strategic system of misinformation driven by angry activists, profiteering authors and misaligned natural foodies.

And yes, sour frickin' grapes.  I love to engage an audience that disagrees with me.

And say what you want about CATO and their forum.  At least they had the balls to host one.

At the "SoJ" meeting they will spew their insanity to willing listeners.  Unchallenged and non-critical, they can gaze glassy eyed into the god-like presence of luminaries like Smith, Shiva and Kimbrell and hang on every word they say. Sniff the rag, sniff the rag...

At least we tried.  Teaching and education will squelch the fear of transgenic technology.  That's why the profiteers driving the anti-industries need to make sure that there is no science, teaching or education in their forums.

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.

Monday, May 27, 2013

University Scientists- Corporate Puppets or Public Servants? - a Post Revisited

*** I posted this a few years ago and it really fits well in the current climate.  How much are scientists really "paid off" by corporate interests?  How much funding at public institutions comes from corporate sources? ***

The scientific consensus of public, academic scientists tells us that:

1. The earth's climate is warming, with at least a component of human cause
2. Evolution explains the diversity of life on earth and continues
3. Transgenic trangenic (GMO) food crops are safe and effective
4. Vaccines are a tremendous, safe cornerstone in public health.
5. Stem cell based therapies show great promise and some application now

Every one of these statements is a well supported hypothesis.  Each is based on substantial data from different experiments and models, from many independent labs, worldwide.

Critics suggest that such data and conclusions only are present because academic scientists are "bought and paid for" by big corporations.  The allegation is that corporations dictate what is to be studied, what will be funded and what results will be obtained, and what may be published.

According to critics, who's bought off, who does the buying? 
1.  Climate change scientists- George Soros, liberal media
2.  Evolution scientists- liberal media, secular humanist and atheist groups, the ACLU, National Academies of Science, Family Guy. 
3.  GMO scientists:  Monsanto
4.  Vaccine science:  "big pharma"
5.  Stem cells: Liberal government operatives that want to kill babies.


I've even endured this personally.  Lay people that disagree with my evidence-based-food stance tell me that none of my work matters because it is all paid for by Pepsico and Monsanto, simply because those companies have minor product licensing agreements with my university.

This argument comes up frequently in discussion of these topics, so I thought I'd take a look.  How much of our research is corporate sponsored?  How "bought and paid for" are we?

First, I went to an easy source at my university, the University of Florida.  The Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) publishes their financials every year.  You can find this online here.

How much Big Corporation money did we spend?  Not that much.  It is buried somewhere in that "other sponsored funds" piece of the money pie.
If corporations are fueling scientific discovery at universities,
they sure aren't contributing too much.  Somewhere in "Other Sponsored Funds"


Now wait, I can hear critics already screaming that "other sponsored funds" is almost 10% of the research dollars spent, and that's a significant amount at a place like the University of Florida.  So let's use the record to break that down: 

Yikes.  Corporate sponsorship is a pretty small sliver of that pie.

So about two percent of our funds come from corporate interests.  For the anti-scientific critics out there, that's about two dollars out of every hundred. 

If we are bought and paid for, we're bought really cheap and not paid well. 

In reality, you can check any individual's research funding, as all of these records are publicly available.  Me, I can state that I've never received corporate financing.  Not a penny.  I do get some support from farm-industry groups, but these are associations of farmers, not corporate interests. 

And I am the rule, not the exception.  Very few of my colleagues have corporate sponsors.  

The other piece of tangential evidence backing my claim of low-corporate involvement in academic science is that public universities are suffering from massive cutbacks.  Whole departments are shrinking or are cut, state and federal resources are harder to obtain, and funding research is harder than it has been in a long time. 

Meanwhile Wall Street rolls along, recovered and soaring as the stock markets reach new highs and corporate profits exceed old records. The corporate world is driving forward, and if they are really sponsoring research in public universities they can't be paying too much.

Maybe these activist causes should consider who academic researchers really work for.  Them.  

Instead of wasting time pointing fingers and implying corporate malfeasance, they might want to examine their own stance, and realize that maybe their experts in academic research are really experts and worth listening to.


** Since first posting of this blog I have received some minimal corporate support for a small project in testing gene regulatory sequences.  It is not from MON, DOW, Bayer, etc. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Asked for Independent Replication... Stunning Corn, Again

A mantra of the anti-GMO movement is that they want independent research, from neutral sources devoid of  special interest.

That is, until it is their special interest.

The Moms Across America "stunning corn" is old news here. In short, anti-GMO websites everywhere showed that GM corn was full of formaldehyde and had no nutrients. The data presented were so fake that anyone with half a brain could see right through it.  They were soil data, and likely faked soil data. 'Moms' promoted, and rabidly defended, fake results as authentic. Still do.

When I questioned them on their websites I was banned, blocked and then criticized.

Last week on Mae-Wan Ho's website I offered to personally pay for a replicate of the experiment.  I was greeted by a kind email from Dr. Ho, and clear indication that Howard Vlieger and Dr. Don Huber (the goofy one, not Don J. Huber) were on board for the new test.



I was excited to say the least.  They clearly were ready to move forward, or they thought they were calling my bluff.  I'm a scientist, not an activist, so I don't have time for bluffing.  Forward we go!



Now I've opened the conversation and I'm surprised they are playing along.  Dr. Maewan Ho has been always accommodating and pleasant.  Could we actually do a real test?  I'm actually starting to think that we'll get somewhere!  No contact from Vlieger on the specifics we need to replicate the test.


YES!  Here we go!  I'm actually really pleased that there's some movement in a common direction.  Maybe they really did get those data and there was a mixup at the lab-- they were being honest.  Maybe those were real data and corn is poison...  I can't fathom that, but it is in the spectrum of possibilities I guess.  The re-test will tell.  This is great!

Let's now put everyone on the hook...  we're all accountable!

This is really coming together!  Ebony and Ivory!  Water and oil!  Union and Confederates!  Kum-by-effin-ya!


I asked Zen Honeycutt and Kathleen Hallal from 'Moms Across America" to please contribute.  I asked them to feel free to shape the next experiments, and offered them authorship on the work.  I wish I could access the old Facebook posts, but they are beyond my history's reach.  Hallal said that nobody ever claimed the results to be real, and that is just bullshit. I did have a note I sent to Honeycutt, so far unanswered.  Of course, she'll never offer to be part of the work.  Her flimsy organization has too much to lose.



Of course, not reply from Zen or Kathleen.  The light of science, the independent verification they want, causes the science-less cockroach fear promoters to scurry for shelter.


Of course, they are on the spot now.  It is time to do the independent, multiple location, replicated, statistically correct test-- they say scientists never do.  Let's do it!


And then, the black helicopters hover......



This is where they have to back out, because they know that independent tests will expose their fraud, or at least their support of a mistake or data someone else faked.  I do not believe it is a mistake, because if they were real data, they would be eager to replicate with independent scientists. 

In the meantime Anastasia Bodnar sources some maize analytical labs we we're getting loads of input on this website about numbers of replicates and experimental design. Unfortunately, none of this comes from those supporting the data.  From Moms Across America's Kathleen Halall, she tells me that they are willing to do the experiment, but I can't be part of it because it has to be an independent scientist... of course, I'm as independent as they come.  Plus, all of this is transparent! 

But you guessed it, they are retreating.  


So they don't want independent replications, they want to do their own replications, where they can control how much formaldehyde the soak the corn in, where they can manipulate the numbers.

I demanded transparency, independent replicates, multiple sites and labs!  Now they are backing out! 

I'm a little disappointed because I thought we were getting somewhere.  My reply:



And one last time to salvage that Kum-by-ya...



I know, I"m such a monster. 


*****

And this is where it stands.  I was never contacted by Vlieger of Huber, and marching moms were just pointy, mean and nonconstructive, true to form. 

If you are someone that understands and accepts the evidence that biotechnology is a safe and useful tool, again the critics have been silenced.

If you are someone that is anti-GMO, if you feel this is dangerous, most of all if you are afraid of those corn data-- then you need to seriously think about who is representing you.  You need to see how they operate, how they are fakes and will not stand by the data they promote!

If you hate GMOs, hate Monsanto, hate biotechnology-- STAND WITH ME and DEMAND that MOMS AGAINST AMERICA, Dr. MAEWAN HO, and others that promote this fake corn data either REPEAT THE TEST INDEPENDENTLY with GREAT RIGOR or TAKE DOWN THEIR BOGUS WEBSITES AND ADMIT THE DATA ARE FALSE.

They'll never do it. They are not big enough people to admit it and their house of anti-science cards depends on it perpetually scaring people, even if it means promoting data that don't match biology, and they don't want replicated.

I've done my part to promote science and reason.  This shows what cowardly stewards of misinformation they are.  I'm maintaining my offer and stand by to do this test. 




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Calling Dr. Ho, Dr. Huber, Mr. Vlieger...



I'm so excited about the comments coming in on a potential replicate of the "Stunning Corn Comparison" originally posted on Moms Across America. I've asked for a large, transparent and independent series of tests and I'm willing to cover the costs, personally.  It will not be cheap. 

The plant science community has stepped up and offered many excellent comments about experimental design in the comments section of previous posts.  I have not heard anything from those promoting the data as real.  This morning I sent the following email to those named in the salutation:


Dr. Ho, Mr. Vlieger and Dr. Huber, 

I hope that we can move forward with a series of independent, transparent and replicated tests on GM corn grown in glyphosate-treated fields versus non-GM corn.  The data presented in the original data set certainly raised eyebrows and drew criticism.  I was one of the biggest critics.  I don't understand much about the data, such as how corn can have 1% brix and why cation exchange capacity was used. 

The way to really clear this up is to have promoters and critics join together to design a transparent test.  It is a win-win for me because it either clears up that there was something wrong with the original data, or they replicate and we get to share authorship on a paper showing 1% Brix corn full of formaldehyde.  That's a huge story and I'd be glad to put my name on that. It would likely go to Science or Nature. 

I've encouraged both promoters of the original data and the wider plant science community to participate in the design and execution of the experiments.  We can do replicated plots with sufficient numbers to generate powerful statistics.  So far, I have heard nothing from the people that voraciously defend these data as legitimate, except for the kind response by Dr. Ho. 

Most of all, I've PERSONALLY agreed to cover the cost of the re-analysis.  For this to be legitimate, we all need to participate and need to decide on analytical methods and multiple independent analytical facilities. 

Please, let's agree to do this.  If the technology is as bad as you claim, and the data your promote are legitimate, we'll need hard numbers from well-designed experiments to replicate and make a very strong case.  A perfect replicate is a very good outcome for me, if we do it together. 

Best wishes, and let's please drive the science forward together, 

Kevin


I provide this note here in the spirit of transparency and working together to resolve an important scientific issue. I'm standing by for their response, which at first, was kind and enthusiastic from Dr. Ho.   If you are against the technology and/or stand by these data, please encourage these anti-GMO luminaries to participate in a larger, more comprehensive evaluation. 



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Putting My Money Where Your Mouth Is!

The Stunning Corn Comparison promoted by Zen Honeycutt at Moms Across America was certainly stunning.  While Zen, farmer Howard Vlieger and Profit Pro stand by these data as authentic, a codified scientific community sees them as either poor quality, a mistake, (or at worst) fraud.

If the results are real and GMO corn is stripped of almost all carbon, loaded with (carbon-based) formaldeyde and glyphosate, plus a Brix of 1%, it would be a remarkable story that would shake the foundation of modern production agriculture. Such findings, if found transparently and in independent, replicated trials, would likely grace the covers of major science weeklys like Science or Nature.

It would be huge news, and as a scientist, I am thrilled to test the hypothesis that the previous data are authentic.


So excited!  I love to see experimental data replicated! 
More numbers, locations, etc, the better I sleep at night!

I have agreed to personally finance the analytical portion of a replicate of the experiment. Experimental design is pending based on the corn genotype, culture conditions and analytical tests performed to obtain previous data. I am waiting to hear back from those that obtained the last numbers.

It is expected that those that produced the original data participate, and I'm working on that.  I think they'd be glad to see their stunning results replicated in statistically meaningful independent trials. Since they stand by the data so rabidly, it is expected that they participate.

At this point, here are the conditions (please submit suggestions in Comments)

Experiment:
  • The experimental design will contain corn from at least two locations.
  • Each location will contain the "GMO" and "non-GMO" lines (hybrids?) used to obtain the original numbers. 
  • Each measurement will come from three replicates of each genotype. 
  • Statistical methods will be determined up front and be adhered to.
  • At least two analytical facilities will be used. 
  • All samples will be coded in the field by independent personnel (County Agents, grower cooperators) and coding will not be revealed until final data are complete.
  • Exact analysis will be based on previous data reported, including %Brix, carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, organic compounds (formaldeyde, glyphosate) and any other tests suggested.  I'm not sure how to test "anerobic biology", so I'm waiting for information from Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Howard Vlieger to tell me how to do this or where we get it done.  Or what it is.

Dissemination:
  • The data will be reported in a peer-reviewed journal consistent with impact of results. Publication will be pursued regardless of results obtained. 
  • All participants will be co-authors.  Offers have been extended to Dr. Ho.  I would also like to include Huber, Vlieger and Zen Honeycutt, as they stand by these data and should be included in their publication.
  • Results will be prominently featured, potentially after publication, on websites and blogs, regardless of outcome.  An announcement will be made to obtain agreement to report results on various websites. This will be a written agreement and publicly accessible.  It is expected that Moms Across America will stand by their rabid defense of the original data and agree to post these findings. 
A proposal will be circulated early this week and it will be adjustable based on public input and the scientific team that vetted/promoted the original data.   We want an airtight, valid, mutually-agreeable experimental design here so that we can have the biggest impact with the results! 

Here goes!  I'm so excited to see this get off the ground.  I'm grateful for Dr. Ho's agreement to participate and also for all of the experimental advice from Anastasia Bodnar and Karl Haro von Mogel. 



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Verifying "Stunning Corn Data"

As the fields begin to grow and acres of corn blanket the nation, it is a great time to re-think the numbers from the chart shown on Moms Across America.  To recap, a chart claiming to be a chemical analysis of GMO and conventional corn was shown, featuring dramatic differences in nutrient content and chemical contamination.

The data, without information of source or method, were widely criticized, including by Yours Truly. However, the person that did/commissioned the test, Howard Vlieger, stands by the data as authentic, along with a host of others, including Zen Honeycutt from "Moms".  UFO Blogger and the Paranormal Society have lent their scientific analysis and are convinced too.

However, in the YouTube video (@7:51) Vlieger says clearly that the data were not repeated, "Just those two samples".  He then goes on to defend the Seralini rat study, so the scientific rigor is not necessarily high here.
Let's re-test those results!  Who's on board! 

As the corn grows in 2013, we are presented with a great opportunity to verify these earthshaking results. I'm excited to have the opportunity to lead a rigorous study to replicate these data.  I've been contacted by Dr. Maewan Ho, and she has Vlieger on board and apparently Dr. Don Huber of anti-GMO fame.

With help of others, we are currently designing a double-blind, multiple location test.  The plan is:

1.  Devise a mutually-agreeable proposal, including tests at multiple sites.

2. The same seeds will be used as in the previous replicate (provided they can be shipped, as they are transgnenic)

3.  Two separate laboratories will be sent coded samples.

4  Data will be returned and then matched to location/genotype.

5.  All facets of the project will be shared here and on Biofortified.org, and wherever others involved would like it posted.

***  All participants must agree on the experimental design, testing facility, procedure.  All must agree to be named authors on the publication.

Personally, I think the last results were crap, that's why I want the most airtight and solid experimental design to go forward.  If it is done right, and the same results are obtained, it will be a huge story in food and corn biology!  That would be really good, so the experiments need to be perfect.

This is the plan at the moment.  Stand by!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

An "Experiment"? Really?

Last week the interwebs reverberated in shock over news that a student had been expelled from school for conducting a science experiment. I was shocked too, certainly I've been extremely active in science fairs, elementary school science education and fostering the adoption of STEM disciplines by minorities and young women.  This is an outrage!

Until you read the details.  I don't know why the world has rushed to her defense.  To me, this is entirely different than a science experiment gone bad, as it is described in the press.

A science experiment gone bad?  Are you serious?  This is an insult to every child in a science fair that does a hypothesis-based, replicated, rigorous science experiment. 

I contend that she was curious and put a caustic chemical into a container with a catalyst and it exploded.  That's not an experiment.  

Of course, her parents have lawyered-up, the public is in a state of outrage and many are screaming for justice.  I just have a few questions for all of them about Kiera's experiment:

  • What was the hypothesis tested? 
  • How did she plan to quantify response?
  • What statistical methods did she plan to use to determine significance? 
  • How many replicates were planned? 
  • Was she planning on presenting these in science fair? 

The answer to all of these questions is, there is no answer! 


Bottom line:  There are three major fails here



  • Kiera was caught doing something wrong, she falls back on the "experiment" defense
  •  The public gives her a free pass and accepts/defends the "experiment" excuse
  • A zero-tolerance Patriot Act policy calls for her expulsion and for this to be considered a felony. 

What should have happened?  She should have admitted to making the device, apologized, discussed why it was wrong and then been suspended for a day.  The school/state should have dropped any criminal charges, as this was clearly not the intent. 

When I was in high school we did lots of experiments. I did the nitrous oxide inhaling experiment and that landed me a suspension. My parents didn't lawyer up and the suspension didn't cause public outrage. Instead, I was grounded, had to talk to counselors, etc. 


In Keira's story, details are slim, but based on the information provided it is clear that this was not an experiment.  Maybe that will change, but for now, it was a sharp kid that made a bad decision that broke the rules, and got caught.  Now is being told that she's an innocent victim, she did nothing wrong, and her behavior was acceptable. 

Friday May 10 should be declared Keira Wilmot Science Solidarity DayI suggest that all kids, in nationwide support of Keira, perform the same science 'experiment' at their schools.    I'll buy the Drain-O!  Let's see how consistent public outrage is when 30 kids show up to each school with a bottle full of caustic drain cleaner that will explode. 

A discussion with Keira's lawyer pretty much eludes to the fact that her parents will sue the school district and probably the State of Florida.  The attorney says, "It will work out very well for Keira".   


Here a lawyer and some parents will turn their kid's bad decision into a lottery ticket.  Maybe she didn't mean to make a bomb, but she should have admitted to doing something wrong, shown some contrition, and agreed not to do this again. 


Instead she'll show that by playing the victim and whining for public approval can pay for college.  That was the real experiment, and the data suggest that it just might work. 




Saturday, April 20, 2013

Scientific Terrorism- Forcing You to Change with Fear

Is the anti-GMO movement scientific terrorism? Terrorism is defined as acts committed which are intended to create fear (terror), perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal.  Here I will show evidence from only one recent source that supports the assertion that the anti-GMO movement is scientific terrorism.

Last week we saw Zen Honeycutt and Moms Across America deploy explosive nonsense, outright falsehoods, in an attempt to cause as much intellectual collateral damage as possible- to build fear, create terror -- when no scientific reason exists.

This week let's look at an on-line petition from ForceChange.org.  Note, this is not "inspire change" or "scientifically influence change".  it is FORCE CHANGE.  Change is demanded and they will use any means possible to achieve it, even if it is not scientifically warranted. 

Their stated goal is to force change because their beliefs and ideological goals dictate that they do-- they have marching orders to carry out, even if it creates harm beyond their mission.  Let the anti-intellectual terror campaign begin!




When you can't inspire change with logic, reason and evidence, you "Force Change". It is parallel to the frightening rhetoric of "Take America Back" in the last election. If you can't get your desired outcomes by evidence-based means, use lies and distortion to force it, to take it back.


Let's examine the recent on-line petition on the page above.  The petition states many blatant falsehoods.  Whether the author is lying, stupid or both is unknown, but it does not stop them from driving a fear-mongering campaign that is inconsistent with science.  Here is the petition broken down into digestible bites, followed by evidence-based commentary.


"Monsanto Corporation has a multinational monopoly over genetically modified foods. This means that farmers are having a difficult time using other seeds." 
Farmers are free to use whatever seeds they want to use. There are plenty of non-GMO seed sources. Farmers choose this technology for its performance and/or cost savings.
"Monsanto necessitates that farmers don’t save and replant next-generation seeds, so that they’ll have to keep buying Monsanto’s seeds every year."
Farmers are free to not sign the agreement and use alternative seeds.  Plant materials, GMO and non-GMO are protected by patents to ensure continued variety improvement by providing some funds back to breeding programs
"When a farmer used a variety of unmarked seeds from a grain elevator, some were found to be Monsanto’s and the corporation sued him for $84,000."
The farmer acquired seeds from an elevator and then used glyphosate (roundup) to select for those containing the beneficial gene. That’s stealing technology. Try making a million copies of software, music or art. You can’t take other people’s inventions or creative work and sell it/use it as your own, and this was the basis of the court's decision. 
"Genetically modified foods are also dangerous. The genetic material added to make crops more resistant to disease often carries RNA that can lead to other diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes." 
The authors present no evidence of this.  In the accompanying plea, they state 
"A Chinese study found that people who ate genetically modified rice had RNA in their bodies that binds to human liver cells and absorbs cholesterol from the blood. RNA is also known to lead to cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes."
What they fail to tell you is that the "Chinese study" was not done with GMO rice. Oops.  Standard old white rice.  PLUS!! "RNA IS ALSO KNOW TO LEAD TO CANCER, ALZHEIMER'S, AND DIABETES!! Holy crap!  I'm loaded with RNA!
"Here in the United States, the Monsanto corporation owns 90% of genetically modified crops, and 88% of corn and 93% of soybeans are genetically modified. In Europe, Monsanto owns 36% of tomato, 32% of sweet pepper, and 49% of cauliflower varieties."
Oh, and the tomato, pepper and cauliflower varieties are not GMO. They may even be growing on your organic farm...
"The European Patent Council can vote to outlaw patents on food, which will end Monsanto’s stronghold in Europe. Hopefully, if you do this, it will encourage the United States and other countries to follow suit, leading to better economic futures for farmers and better health for people."
Better economic futures?  By driving corn, soybean, canola, sugar beet and cotton production overseas?  Better for plant breeders that rely on plant patents to protect their interests and maintain their programs?  

*****

Once again the anti-scientific rhetoric of the anti-GMO movement soars to a new low.  Not only do they provide absolutely false information, it is presented to generate fear in an attempt to force change. That's using terrorism to drive an agenda, to force you to change your ways or your thinking because of fear.