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, 


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)

  • 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.

  • 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, 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  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. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When Terror Fails: Courage and Outrage Ignite

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon was a rookie job.  Sadly it ended in death and injury, so to those it touched it is quite serious and just as horrendous as a jet plane into a skyscraper.  The unexpected instantly changed many lives, and those killed and those surviving feel tragedy forever.

The goal of the perpetrator was to generate fear and terror. Fail. In their place is only anger and courage, and an understanding that we will not tolerate this bullshit and we'll fix it if it happens again.  We will care for those affected.

(Predictions and thoughts ahead)

If the goal of this person, and it was one person, was to generate terror and fear, then it is a major fail. This 34-year-old white male targeted the Boston Marathon.  He wanted to raise fear and terror. Instead he raised anger, resolve and dedication to a bigger ideal.  He picked the wrong event.

The marathon is the ultimate display of human resolve and character, an ability to play through pain, move when you can't move anymore, and do it with remarkable levels of performance.  The athletes lived this, and the crowds knew this.  It is an activity of perseverance.

It is the wrong crowd for a cowardly attack.

I always said that Timothy McVey didn't realize what he could do, or did.  He was a hack, a nut in his patriot cave angry at the world and seeking justice from his own beliefs.   The person that did the Boston bombings is cut from the same cloth, only he didn't have the balls and/or brains to take it further than a couple of low-rent pipe bombs left in a crowded area.

There's no terror here.  No fear.  Sadness, yes, but that only raises anger and action. It won't change us. We'll never go to the finish line of a race through a metal detector and we certainly won't take off our shoes for a marathon.  People are not scared, they're pissed.

They will catch the guy that did this and when they pull him from his loner, suburban Boston apartment he'll be identified as another loser, mad at the world, stoked by fears of the media outlets that tell him of government intrusion and  threats to his crappy "victimized" way of life. If he doesn't go down in a hail of bullets he'll go down with a needle in his arm in 6 years after proudly admitting his indiscretions.

I'm calling the Boston Marathon Bombings a major fail for one dumbass 'patriot'.

Let's watch as my prediction unfolds.

The response will be tempered and measured.  We will not live in fear from this one and there will be no action to adjust the way we do things to accommodate the sickening.  Terrorism fail.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Moms (well) Mobs Across America- Follow the Money

The recent discussion of the data appearing on the Moms Across America have gone viral.  They have shown up across the interwebs.  Just google "stunning corn comparison" and you can see how the non-discriminating science palate of activist websites have bought the story as the highest scientific evidence of transgenic plant harm.  Even Natural News calls this made up data on a flyer a "paper" insinuating that it is some peer-reviewed work.

The readers of this blog have been wonderful in searching out reality.  Several have posted the original links to a pdf from a fertilizer company in Canada that subscribes to anti-transgenic crop nonsense.

Today I was directed to the Moms Across America again by blog reader Alun Salt.  It was the 'Moms' site that started the whole flap about how transgenic corn has no nutritional value but is loaded with glyphosate and formaldehyde.  The corn is rich in zinc an copper but has no calcium or carbon-- numbers that just don't fit with what we know about plant ion relations and metabolomics.

Now get this:

  • DeDell's Seed sells non-trangenic corn seeds.
  • DeDell's made at least one donation to Moms Across America.
  • The donation was made shortly before the "data" showing that GMO corn was poison with no nutritional value was posted. 

If you'd like your products and agenda spotlighted by an angry mob of non-critical thinkers, make a donation to Mobs Across America and send them some unvetted data to promote.  Make sure they are consistent with their agenda and not from scientists!

Can somebody say "conflict of interest" here?   The company that donates money gets their implausible, misrepresented (or possibly manufactured) data represented as actual science, when the company sells a product that competes with the product being criticized.  In other words, bash the competitor with bad information and pay a disinformation clearinghouse to promote the junk science.