A Question from a Hofstra Debater

I'm glad to report that I received a kind and inquisitive email from one of the anti-GM debaters from the Hofstra event.   Bhavani Jaroff is a food activist, chef and radio host.  I was glad to meet her as we certainly align on the vast majority of food-related issues.  She argued on the side promoting increased GM regulation and her presentation was fear-laden activist talking points without firm understanding of the science.

Recently I reached out, offering to explain the science behind her supporting evidence.  She declined the offer and suggested that she'd stay with Jeffrey Smith and Vandana Shiva as sources of scientific information in this area.

Of course, that made all of my hair stand on end.  Neither Smith nor Shiva will ever offer to hold your hand and navigate a scientific paper in biotech.  Because neither of them can.

Bhavani Jaroff gets huge cred for at least asking questions about biotech.

However, times may be a-changin'.  I was delighted to receive an email from Bhavani about the long-dead  "Gene IV" issue, the nugget gathered from a paper on the 35S promoter used in biotech.   She asked a series of good questions and I was happy to supply the answers.

I write this blog for two reasons:

1.  The last blog I wrote made it sound very much like she had shut off and didn't want to know any information except from sources that supported her biases.  I think that's not the case based on this correspondence. (last blog reflects this)

2.  It shows that as scientists we can begin to start an important process.  If those holding any opinions that run counter to science are presented with an opportunity to learn the hard facts, sometimes it can be attractive.  Bhavani is a good example. She's clearly super intelligent, wants to do the right thing, and certainly would not want to be deceived.  It is easy to interest people like her in looking further into the real science.

In this case even reaching out for more information and then comparing the info from multiple sources is a huge step.  Big kudos to Ms. Jaroff.   That made my day.

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