Showing posts from June, 2015

High Roads

Over the last few years you'll find that a substantial number of my twitter posts are followed by the objections of a certain veterinarian from from Long Beach, CA.  I'm not naming her here because I don't want anyone searching for her professional or business information to find this page. This is an appeal to others to take a high road in dealing with her, and if possible, to not engage with her.  Why is it a problem?   She comments on my blog posts. She slams me on her blog. She systematically checks all of my tweets and chimes in on a large number of them, using fallacy to negate key points. She has dug for, and has broadcasted personal financial information, obtainable because I am a public scientist , then s he claims I'm paid by Monsanto and not a public scientist.  She's endlessly tries to tarnish my reputation as an independent voice of science, as an expert in genomics and someone that can faithfully interpret the literature for the general public.  

Celebrating a Failure, That Really Was a Success

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. -- Wayne Gretzky Back in 2012, the activist group Take the Flour Back was settled on destroying a science experiment.  The trial was set on an English hillside near Rothamstead Research Institute, rows of wheat specially genetically engineered to produce a natural plant compound (E-beta-farnesene) that faithfully repelled aphids in lab experiments.  Certainly plants protect themselves with natural compounds from insect pests, and engineering in a compound that repels pests but has no effect on humans would be a great innovation. Such approaches have been tremendous environmental successes in corn and cotton. After pleading on You Tube, scientists convinced the activists to not destroy the crop, and to let the trial progress to completion. Public pressure was palpable, and the to-be vandals saw the potential backlash of their actions.  The trial would proceed, and would-be crop crushers went back to hackeysack and glassblowing. 

Opinion As Fact: When Our Media Loses Its Filter

It is dangerous to scream fire in a crowded theater, when no fire is present.  So why would the Naples Daily News possibly print an inflammatory alarmist story on agricultural biotechnology (in the article referring to “GMOs”) that presented patently false information and opinion, instead of sound science?  The photo below leads the health section of the paper.  It is another familiar attempt to scare a curious public away from perfectly good food.  From an activist webite?  Nope!  From the front page of the health section of a Florida newspaper. Again, the line between science and fiction is crossed, and made to look like investigative journalism.   The words of Kelly Farrell are a veiled advertisement for Jeffrey Smith, a non-scientist that runs a business manufacturing fear around the world’s safest and most highly-regulated food products.  To a public scientist like me, it was a profound disappointment to see such nonsense in a health-associated story.  The informa

Folta News, Standing By for Fallout

I have not been writing much because I've been traveling and writing more than usual, and then also fired up a new podcast. The last two weeks have been truly difference makers. However, when you make a difference, you have to start looking over your shoulder. 1.  Biotech Literacy Project Bootcamp 2 - Davis, CA. This was a closed, invite-only meeting that allowed scientists, journalists and others to meet and discuss how we can be better communicators with the public. Again, I learned a lot, and I'm amazed at how much we are learning about talking to non-scientists about science.  2.  Podcast with Joe Rogan Going in I was not sure how this would break, but Joe and I had a nice conversation that really frames how this discussion needs to go.  It needs to depart from the tired, baseless discussions of Indian suicides and terminator genes, and focus on traits and innovations that can't be used.  These have a daily body count.  I received literally hundreds (I copie

Glyphosate and Gut Bacteria

I've been wanting to write this blog for a long time, and now I'm glad I didn't until now. There is a groundswell of outcry against the herbicide glyphosate, the stuff that has the acute toxicity as a sip of your favorite beer.  If you listen to the anti-GM activists, it causes everything from autism to Alzheimers, to allergies, to cancer, to celiac disease, and a dozen other ailments.  Of course, none of been demonstrated experimentally.  It is easier and more fun to just make up goofy talk.  I do get a lot of email about this lately and an article published from Natural Society (red flag here) brings one issue to the fore-- It is not toxic to humans, but it is toxic to the bacteria in the gut. It has even become the basis of a class-action lawsuit, claiming that the manufacturers, well, one manufacturer that these goons especially don't like, did not provide a warning label on the package about toxicity to human gut bacteria.   Matthew Phillips is an attorne