Sunday, July 27, 2014

Do You Stand with Adams and Shiva?

Dear Biotech Critics,

Mike Adams has issued a rather unveiled threat against journalists and scientists that favorably view crop biotechnology.  His position has since been implicitly backed by Vandana Shiva on her website.

it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.


This is a call to publicly denounce the terrorist tactics by Adams and Shiva.  It is important to your own movement that you distance yourself from them, and condemn their statements.

Or, if you think their positions are good, don't I have a right to know?

Thanks!

Kevin

Friday, July 25, 2014

Vandana Shiva Endorses Murder of Biotech Supporters

Mike Adams has called for the assassination of journalists and scientists that stand behind the use of modern biotechnology in crops.  Not to be outdone, this warm message of love and tolerance was quickly posted by Vandana Shiva, you know, the one that received the Sydney Peace Prize in 2010.  Sydney must be a relatively violent place.

Today her website featured a reprint of Adams' article, reminding her followers that science is not to be tolerated and that those that support science must be stopped.   Her website, Seed Freedom, reminds her throngs of followers of Adams' vicious message- that those supporting biotechnology are all simply "Monsanto Collaborators" and akin to Nazi supporters that generated propaganda and took action to advance the influence of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement.  The content squares nicely with her claims of modern biotech as being a new genocide, responsible for the deaths of millions.

Shiva's website proudly displays Adams' vicious call to action for violence against scientists and journalists.

My gut tells me that this was the work of one of her minions and not the work of Shiva herself.  You'd have to be relatively dim to endorse Adams and his rhetoric.  While potentially in concordance with his views, Shiva is an adept politician, and will know that this call to action will backfire.  Equating good science to one of histories most heinous atrocities is so blatantly flawed that even she won't let it stand, as this rhetorical flourish will come back to harm her someday.  Don't expect it to remain on her website very long.

UPDATE. 

As of 7/29/14 there is no more website at this URL.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do Not Stop Adams and Intimidation - Exploit It.

This week, Health Ranger Mike Adams made a thinly-veiled call to recruit anti-GMO activists and the general public to arms.  His goal, mobilize interest to threaten or harm scientists, journalists and others that dare to interpret the scientific literature on transgenic crops and/or communicate it to the public.  The article appeared on Natural News, a page with a readership of over 200,000 a day.  The page was steeped in Nazi imagery, calling supporters of transgenic technology part of the Agricultural Holocaust.

The title of the article is : Biotech genocide, Monsanto collaborators and the Nazi legacy of ‘science’ as justification for murder

I hear that the Nazis have contacted Adams and the owners of the "Monsanto Collaborators" website.  The Nazis feel that Adams and anti-GMO are negative weight on their reputation.


Stay hot, Dork Ranger.  Of course, he now has shown that he's seriously off his rocker and willing to command his army of the brain dead to harm those that don't capitulate to their level of stupid. 

TODAY!!!!  Imagine my joy when I find this!  A new page constructed that follows Adam's direction to establish a page of "Monsanto Collaborators", people with no formal collaboration to Monsanto, but people that communicate and/or do research on transgenic technology.  
Right now the "scientist" section is not populated, but I'm hoping to be on that list!


Now they have moved to intimidation phase.  When you don't have facts, evidence or data, use a swastika. This will backfire.  Let him leave it up there as long as possible. 

Keith Kloor addresses this whole thing quite well today, so no sense in being redundant.   The question now is, what should we do now? 

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.   In fact, we should use this as a badge of honor, put this in every website, public talk, twitter article, whatever it takes.  DO NOT CALL TO TAKE IT DOWN.  

It means we are making a difference. 

This journalist/scientist= Nazi angle will absolutely backfire.  Remember, the people that need communication and convincing are not the crazies on  the edge, they are the people in the fat of the bell curve.  They don't know one way or the other, so they choose based on fear rather than logic.

What's more illogical than calling for harm to the scientists and journalists that simply discuss technology that has been overwhelmingly beneficial?  What's more illogical than indicting people that have a clue, but connecting them to Nazi Germany?  Goodwin's Law usually is spot on. 

My appeal is to scientists, journalists and the public, especially those named on this list, to let it ride!   Take screen shots, use it far in wide, put it in every seminar, website and blog entry.  Adams says what most of them just think.   His stupid filter doesn't stop at just writing nonsense, he's actually spewing it like a fire hydrant.

This kind of imagery will end the labeling discussion dead in its tracks.  Adams calls for harm to scientists and journalists, but has done irreparable harm to his own cause.

I'm calling this one a victory.  






Monday, July 21, 2014

If They Say "Agent Orange", Stop Listening

Some people are truly slimy.  Few things frame the use of fear to attempt to motivate opinion on transgenic crops like the increasing use the phrase "Agent Orange".  It seems that you can't read an anti-GMO opinion lately where the author does not allude to the tragic use of this military agent, now in the contemporary setting of a farm near you!   And of course, they'll tell you it will be in your food.  And in your baby food.  And in your breastmilk.  It is about fear.  Period.

Agent Orange was a collection of herbicides, namely 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, that were produced by at least sixteen companies during the Vietnam War era.  They were used as defoliants, key weapons to expose an entrenched resistance in a dense jungle.  These compounds are synthetic auxins, a class of plant hormone that inspires rapid cell division and elongation growth.  Essentially, a plant grows itself to death.  

The 2,4,5-T preparation was contaminated with a potent dioxin, a chemical directly responsible for the tragic health impacts on soldiers and civilians. 

2,4-D has been the most widely used agricultural chemical in the last century. Nobody ever cared or thought twice about it until plants were genetically engineered to resist it-- now it must be villianized.

2,4-D is NOT AGENT ORANGE.  IF SOMEONE SAYS THIS, OR EVEN EVOKES THE TRAGIC USE OF CHEMICAL WARFARE TO INFLUENCE YOU... YOU ARE BEING MANIPULATED.  IF SOMEONE NEEDS TO EXPLOIT A TRAGEDY OF VIETNAM TO PUSH THEIR ACTIVIST AGENDA, TELL THEM IT IS SHAMEFUL, AND STOP LISTENING. 


Of course the opinion piece in an Oregon paper doesn't mind going there.  What better term to flip out a state rich with those that believe anything first, and ask science questions never*?  A local physician and a retired EPA scientist sure don't mind using it-- it's scary! 

It comes up again and again in the mindless comment stream. 


You'd think a physician and a retired EPA scientist could build an argument based on facts rather than fear.  When you've got nothin', play the Agent Orange card.  

This is how you know there is no legitimate evidence backing the labeling initiatives.  There is no science, no reason.  There are no data or conclusions.  You can't motivate Joe and Jane Six Pack away from the Kardashians to engage them with scientific information, but you can give them a major-league chemophobic freak out by conjuring up images of an weapon of war, now applied to food. 

Disgusting.  

The minute you read or hear the phrase Agent Orange, know you are being manipulated by false pathos.  Tell them to save the hyperbole.  If they have to scare you to vote for labeling with false associations, then it probably isn't such a hot idea. 

*After my original post a received a few comments and emails from proud Oregonians that didn't feel this characterization was appropriate.   After a short exchange with one friend (K.L.- YES YOU) she stated, "The place does have quite a few flakes",  which I think is consistent with what I said.  Not everyone there is goofy, duh.  Some of my favorite thinkers are there at OSU and OU, and a bunch live in Portland just 'cause they love it.  So kudos to Oregon, you've never done me wrong, but in my estimation you're up there with Texas, Florida and Vermont with those that might put belief over science... not quite California, but keep trying! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

When Liars Cross the Line - GMO Insulin

I was shocked, but not surprised, when a internet meme from GMO-Free USA popped up on my Facebook page:


GMO Free USA (and GMO Free Canada, eh) really shows their true colors with this one.  The referenced paper has nothing to do with GMO insulin, other than saying that it is better than the stuff from animals.


The rocket surgeons over at GMO Free USA really stepped in it this time.  They are using their fear-based misinformation machine to now scare people away from life-saving insulin therapy.  We all depend on insulin, a hormone synthesized in the Pancreas, to control blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar can lead to a variety of metabolic disorders and long-term damage to various organs. Type II diabetics produce too much at first, leading to insulin resistance, a state where the body just does not respond to the hormone and blood sugar levels remain high. Eventually type II's do not produce enough, so they need to control blood sugar with drugs, or in some cases administer insulin injections to manage their levels. 

Insulin for human use used to be purified from the pancreas of slaughtered animals.  The preparations obviously would contain other potentially reactive proteins, which presented an attractive solution for recominant DNA technology.  Recombinant insulin was first generated way back in the 1970's, and today is generated in yeast or E.coli in massive fermeneters.  The recombinant (GMO) insulin is infinitely more pure, safe and available. 

So why would the bone-heads at GMO Free USA make this claim?  They are not alone- the same claim was also shown over by the guy with minimal scholarly chops, Sayer Ji.  I'm pretty sure he read the headline and didn't even read the paper (I did).  It is not the first time, as he also reported on the title of the Glyphosate in 75% of Water Samples paper that was not even out, and I got the first copy from the authors. 

GreenMedInfo once again shows that the truth shall not stand in the way of agenda, 
even if people die in the process. 


They may be dead wrong on this one, but at least they are being intellectually consistent. If a bacterial gene in plants is magically dangerous, a human gene in yeast must be one of the most poisonous concoctions on earth. Of course, we all know that it is beyond perfectly safe when used correctly.

What did the paper really say? 

Well, that would require reading it, which I did.  Here's the scoop. First, it does not mention "GMO Insulin" or even compare recombinant insulin to non-recombinant. 

Is that what GreenMedInfo and GMO Free USA say? Absolutely not!  They should be admonished for their scare tactics.  This crosses a line. 

The gist of the paper is simple. If you give insulin to someone that is not diabetic, the body reacts to the improper presence of insulin, which is a reactive hormone.  After prolonged administration of insulin symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can be observed in some genetic backgrounds.  The study by Nishida et al., 2014, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism is a short report that expands previous observations to a set of six individuals that were being tested for this response.  The interest was to determine if there was a genetic component that could be isolated in this short pilot study. 

The report does state that the individuals that have a specific HLA Type (a collection of blood cell surface antigens) are more susceptible to the insulin-triggered development of Type I diabetes.  They link this to specific genetic markers that are present in Japanese populations.  It is much more complex than this, but in a nutshell... 

A Dangerous and Deadly Agenda
Even Health Ranger Mike Adams is not stupid enough to touch this one. Once again, anti-GMO activists like those at GreenMedInfo and GMOFreeUSA rub their crystals and align their shakras in a message that stands to strike fear in those using safe and dependable insulin therapies.  This kind of fear mongering is just an extension of their normal routine-- condemning good technology and products to fit their own agendas, even if it causes harm or death to others in the process. 



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Predicting the Future -- Seralini Rat Paper Redux

"I don't need a crystal ball; I have a crystal brain."
--Adam Carolla

Today the famous Lumpy Rat paper was published by Seralini and colleagues.  I should say RE-published because it is basically the same content published in 2012, that was later retracted from the journal.  Personally, I was glad to see him attempt to publish it again.  The literature is where the conversation should happen, and if the work is of good quality it will be reproduced and expanded upon. 

If the work is of poor quality it will die a scientific dead end, cited only by the same authors in future papers with no additional progress.  Kind of like the rest of the Seralini work. 

Unfortunately the general public doesn't follow the scientific conversation. People only pick the monologues they agree with, and a single flawed study from a biased lab carries as much weight (or more) than a thousand agreeing reports from 800 different groups. 

It was disappointing to see that Seralini's group didn't even try to fix the obvious and egregious errors and omissions.  They even took on a snarky commentary in their Competing Interests section, stating, 

"The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests, and that, in contrast with regulatory assessments for GMOs and pesticides, they are independent from companies developing these products."

... which is amazingly unprofessional, off base and not scientific.  It is a political statement.  The journal and the editors should be ashamed. 


However, all of this comes as no surprise, as back on March 3, 2014 I wrote in this blog: 

"It is conceivable that the data may find publication in a smaller low-impact title, like Carman's article in the Journal of Organic Systems, an apparently online only journal with no impact factor and limited editorial rigor.  The credulous anti-GMs don't understand science, let alone what the quality of the venue means." 

Some may consider this prophetic, but it is easy to see the future when the future is painfully obvious.  Seralini appears to have quite an ego to sustain, and the retraction from an okay journal must have hit pretty hard.  It was almost certain that he'd attempt to republish the work-- but it isn't going to a decent journal.  Today it came out in Environmental Sciences Europe, a journal with a less-than-rigorous grasp on reality, a clear anti-biotech slant, and the journal that has published such duds as Benbrook's famous paper on increasing pesticide use that used interpolated and extrapolated data (because actual numbers didn't exist).  

It boils down to this-- if these data were significant, if the experiments were good, and the interpretations sound, this would not be buried in the depths of a crappy journal.  If there was hard evidence that our food supply truly caused tumors, it would be on the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature, or maybe Cell if he wanted to go slumming.  But it's not there.  It is in a tiny, obscure journal that has quite a visible agenda, and that's the only thing visible about it. 

And that's where it belongs.  Let him have his day in the sun.  History will not remember him for his science. It will remember him as a disgraceful hack that let personal agenda affect adoption of safe scientific technology.  He'll be the guy that fooled millions with low-quality data.  

It is very sad, because I'd rather be writing blogs about exciting science and new findings.  Instead we're back to this nonsense.  Luckily, it will slowly disappear into time, like Puzstai's lectins, Huber's mystery organism, and the rest of the alarmist junk never published or never reproduced. 

It does not take a crystal ball to see that. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Voyager's Gold Record- Vintage Technology for Extraterrestrial Audiophiles

I'm a huge Sagan fan, and even today I am surprised at how well his words and the 70's series resonate gloriously.  But WTF is with the Gold Record on Voyager? 

The records were constructed of copper with a gold plating and contain Sounds of Earth.  They were placed on both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 and now are somewhere out past Pluto.  Sagan noted, "The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space (that have a turntable)." 




Shot into space, any extraterrestrial can enjoy "Sounds of Earth".
If they have a good thrift shop they might find a way to play the damn thing.

Of course, back in the 70's we were pretty sure that the LP was here to stay.  I remember thinking they should have shot the KISS Alive II double album into space too. The problem of launching an LP into space is that the receiving party has to figure how to use it.  If such a thing were to land from space in some random locale in the USA, the finder would either grill it, rape it or pawn it. Unfortunately the utility of a 1970's style LP record is highly dependent on the sophistication of the receiver. 
On our next space probe we should include a turntable, one of those cool ones with that arm that drops a stack of records one-by-one.  Include that weird plastic swastika-thingy that you had to use to play 45's in case they find one on another space probe that liked a few Sounds of Earth but didn't want to commit to the whole album. This is a great idea for a Kickstarter campaign.

The B side is the lousy sounds of earth, like the kid screaming behind you in the airplane, that clicky noise your car makes when you turn the key and the battery is dead, and the noise the dental drill makes when it really starts to dig in. 
We also need to include a dime for them to put on the needle in case it skips. Nothing worse than the Sounds of Earth with an annoying "ka-thunk" every revolution. 
The whole thing is kind of charming in that it was the best we had at the time, and kinda cute that we'd see the LP record as a durable technology that might transcend the ages. It was gone in a decade. It is a reminder of how far we have come in a short time, and a prelude to how exciting our future must be.