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Showing posts from April, 2015

Chipotle Goes GMO Free! *

GMO Free (adj)- Devoid of products produced through transgenic organisms.  What the heck was GMO at Chipotle in the first place?   Typically these places just throw some vegetables and meat in a flour tortilla, so there's not much that is GMO to start with.  However, corn chips and soybean oil are likely derived from perfectly healthy ingredients originating from transgenic crops.  Chipotle has decided to source these from non-GM sources, and that is their claim to being non-GMO.  And Nation of Change is so excited!  The first fast food chain to go GMO free!    Except they aren't GMO free. And have the same GMO profile as McDonald's or Subway .  Chipotle fails to note that they still are selling conventional soft drinks, sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup.  That is almost 100% from GMO corn.  The cheese they use is almost certainly made with rennet derived from transgenic microbes .  This is a complicated topic, but some of the best ones come

Precaution Potatoes! - Out of the EU and Organic Production

The discovery of transfer DNA (T-DNA) in sweet potato indicates horizontal transfer of genetic material from bacterium to plant.  The process is identical to that used in the generation of other transgenic plants, and transgenic plants bear the same bacterial DNA sequences used in the transfer process. The sweet potato is thuslly out of compliance with European Union standards, and must not be cultivated on organic farms. We must follow the Precautionary Principle- right?  Almost 50,000 angry petitioners stand up against sweet spuds!  For decades anti-GMO groups have warned us against adding genes and T-DNA to genomes.   What do the critics say about T-DNA insertions? ·          There are no long-term studies showing their effects or if products are safe. ·          There is no way to guess at unintended consequences. Like causing Morgellon’s Disease  and other infections . ·          Sweet potatoes and foods with them must be labeled in the EU, as they contain a

By 2030, 1 in 2 Children Will Have a Sweet Potato

Since the beginning of plant genetic engineering, one of the central criticisms has been that we never can predict the long-term effects of T-DNA integration.  T-DNA stands for "transfer DNA", and it is the little run of genes and stuff that is integrated into the DNA of the new host organism.  It is the piece of DNA that activists claim will unleash unforeseen devastation, and is the basis of all that's evil and wrong with the world, leading to disease, destruction and lost socks. The recent sequencing of the sweet potato genome revealed that its collection of genetic material contains naturally-occurring T-DNA inserts.  Kyndt et al find that Mother "Monsanto" Nature has genetically engineered sweet potatoes, as they contain elements of horizontal gene transfer, making them naturally occurring GMOs. Kyndt et al. find T-DNA in sweet potatoes-- but Monsanto didn't put it there, Mother Nature did. Mother Nature is a Monsanto shill! I'm not sur

Lazy or Plagiarism?

Did you ever read something and swear you have read it somewhere else before?  It happens to me now and then, particularly when something is so memorably awful that it burns a special place in my brain. Here is one such instance.  A 2015 paper published by Hilbeck et al, co-authored by luminaries including Shiva, Hansen, Heinemann, Antoniou and others, is substantially lifted word for word from a 2013 website.  Since its publication in January 2015, anti biotech activists have reminded us again and again, of the peer-reviewed journal that soundly declares no consensus on GMO crops. The paper, published in Environmental Sciences Europe , is a 'Discussion' paper, which means it is a non-peer reviewed opinion piece. As a scientist, reviewer and editor I have a lot of problems with such work.  I do appreciate clearly marked  Letters and Correspondence , and certainly welcome Opinions .  These can spark discussion and speculation, but are obviously distinguished as ide

Who Are the Real Shills?

I hear it almost every single day.  Because I talk or write about science, and promote ideas consistent with the scientific literature, I must be somehow receiving compensation to share such views.   After all, what kind of sick bastard would spend their personal time communicating facts to the public?  There must be something hidden! These are the brilliant speculations that fuel the #Science14 public records request , the endless accusations of being a Monsanto lackey , and the distrust in scientists in general.  If we are talking about cool scientific ideas, then there must be some secret money trail encouraging that discussion.  It is one of the most small-minded assertions I've ever heard, but coming from small minds it makes perfect sense.  There are a lot of people making big bucks by promoting bad ideas. They have been doing it for centuries.  Swindles are financially lucrative, because "there's a sucker born every minute" , and many modern-day charlatans

Bad Advice from the Well Meaning

I have a friend here in Gainesville, FL that I'll refer to as Annie. Annie goes to her temple, then squeezes out some yoga, talks of peace and love, smokes like a fiend, and then tells you how evil medicine is after she rips a bongload.  She's a sweetie that I would do anything for, as her kindness towards others allows me to approach her softly on issues where her science leaves much to be desired.  Then last week she posts this on her Facebook page: Don't get a shot-- take a shot!  A glass of plant goo is claimed to exceed vaccination in protection against the influenza virus. She's crossed a line here.  I simply posted, "You make my science hurt" because any time I inject science onto any of her postings I get to deal with the usual patchouli-soaked retorts that make me lose faith in humanity.  I have to deal with this one a little more aggressively. Folks are welcome to down as much plant juice as they can stomach-- but let's not te

The Value of the Farmer's Voice

U.S. farmers make up approximately 1.5% of the population. They are the most credible source of information about production details, the inputs used, and the challenges faced.  However, they are not active in social media.  Of course, there are notable exceptions, one featured here today. On the other hand there is Moms Across America , a group of anti-farmer, anti-vaccination, anti-biotech affluent Californians that have a strong social media presence.  They don't know about farms and farming, yet they write about how detrimental farming is, they certainly don't like the major seed companies, and they even promote false or flimsy data.  So Kansas farmer Mary Mertz reached out.  The following note was re-posted in the Food and Farm Discussion Lab on Facebook, after its original post was posted as a comment on the MAA site.  Mary Mertz reaches out to Moms Across America.  Her heartfelt honesty is what is needed to build trust with the average consumer. 

Glyphosate: Deadly Microbial Poison or Life Enhancer?

The recent flap on glyphosate has been fun to watch.  It is an ag chemical that is used on some transgenic crops that contain a gene allowing them to grow through herbicide treatment, where weeds die. This technology has been extremely helpful for farmers.  Because the folks opposed to ag biotech have had zero luck tying the process of gene transfer or the genes themselves to any health issues, they have retreated to hammering glyphosate.  After all, it is the chemical that makes the trait valuable. Plus it kills weed pests, so it can be lumped in with the ever-evil pesticides . Plus, herbicides by definition kill herbs, and herbs cure every disease in the world, ever. Big pharma just won't let that happen. Therefore, glyphosate has become the new popular target for the anti-GMO movement.  Of course, nobody points out that glyphosate is used extensively in non-GMO applications, such as a harvest aid in grains, clearing rows of weeds in tree-crop orchards, or heavy use by mun

Science as a "Marketing Arm" of Big Ag

The most hilarious part about US-RTK is that they are so clueless on science that they'll actually print the stuff like you find here .  Go ahead and read it.  After you compose yourself from laughing, come back and continue reading.  Their claim is that the GMO Answers website is a PR tool.  I suppose at some level it is, as the technology, traits, seeds and users of agricultural biotech have been defamed and smeared by activists for two decades without a whole lot of push back.  Here the science is related to the public, which I guess defines public relations.  However, Truth does not need "PR"-- it just needs to be communicated effectively.  That is what does. For almost twenty years the non-scientific arguments, blatant untruths, and half-cocked evidence were allowed to tarnish the reputation of technology that has performed safely and effectively.  These efforts have led to calls for horribly-conceived, non-scientific and expensive changes in