Friday, November 7, 2014

You've Been Fooled, Science Center!

If you are planning to visit the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, you might not see Jesus riding a T. rex,  or a model of the earth with expanding glaciers.  These are the things that crackpot pseudo-science museums might promote.  Nothing like that could happen here... or could it?

An event next week was brought to my attention.  The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is sponsoring Science on Tap- GMOs Exposed!  

November 13th you can go hear about how GMOs are 'exposed', whatever that means... Maybe we should dig a little deeper...

The presenter is Michelle Parenti Lewis, a local RD.  So what can an apparently trained RD "expose"? 

A quick google search shows that the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium has been duped.  They have scheduled what will likely not be a scientific talk, but an activist parasite posing as science.  This is the most disgusting of all scams. And they fell for it.

A little poking around shows that Ms. Lewis is an anti-GMO advocate.  In a local promotion for the same event on SouthFlorida.com they show the event's true colors: 

Blinded by Science?  But the $3 Irish Car Bombs will "kill any GMO in a radius of 17 feet from the food on your plate."  Science is awesome?  Sounds like something a Science Center might endorse? 

The promotion claims that Lewis will describe "their potentially harmful effects", which is code for "these have no documented health effects over 17 years, but that's not scary so we'll talk about potential effects". This sure looks like an activist rant posing as a scientific presentation. 

*** and alcohol kills 88,000 in the USA every year. That's exactly 88,000 more than GMOs in 17 years ***

There still is no hard evidence that this is a credulous activist talk posing as science.  It could be a typo, or the work of some intern that has been since fired for besmirching science. Or not.

It does not take too long to see that Ms. Lewis is steeped in naturalistic fallacy, and uses that platform to raise activist issues.  The website dietbalance.net  cites the November 13th event and provides a brief dossier.  It seems reasonable at first, but then gets to "She is an advocate for locally sourced organic food production and the labeling of genetically engineered foods and cloned foods".  

Cloned foods?  I guess those organic bananas, strawberries, citrus, and dozens of other crops are off the table. 

A little more digging and it's clear that she's in cahoots with Food and Water Watch, an activist hive that spends a lot of time trashing sound transgenic technology.  She has spoken at several events in support of food labeling.  Read this and weep, science lovers:

Wow, same old junk.


And if you poke around more you can find even more evidence that the proposed speaker adheres to the naturalist fallacy, and therefore has to deny, and fight, the science of biotechnology. 

So congratulations South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, you've been bamboozled by activists posing as scientists.  You've been tricked by someone with a lot of letters after her name that chooses to ignore the scientific literature, and that should be frightening.  

I would strongly recommend canceling the event, or at least taking away your endorsement and leave that to the crystal rubbers and ear candlers. This is not science and you are being used. 

Of course, if you like this kind of thing I can get a Jesus on a T. rex stature for your foyer... 


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This is No Victory.

Hearts fluttered and hearts sank.  Election returns brought some to ballrooms and others to bathrooms. Others remained too close to call.

It appears that the ballot initiatives mandating labels on foods containing ingredients derived from transgenic crops did not pass. But it is no victory.

Many will disagree.  Grocery manufacturers, seed companies and farmers will claim victory because voters will not mandate what seed they use, or force unneeded hassles of separating products depending on if they contain a single gene or not.

However, the anti-farmer, anti-scientific voters that use a ballot box to vote on if science is true will return to the drawing board for two more years.  That's a temporary victory to those that spent (wasted) millions to push them back.  It should never have gotten that far.


Once again a comma defines the sentiment. 

Worse in watching the persuasive ads for YES and NO, both camps manipulated fear and emotion to influence voters.  There was no education, no reason.  Voting decisions were driven by an appeal to the lesser of two non-existent evils.

No matter how these results fall, it is not a victory for science and reason.  It reminds us that those of us that work in education have a long way to go.

It also deteriorates my faith in the wisdom of our nation's citizens. When they fall for the lies of activists over the evidence of science, it says we don't deserve a democracy. These votes should have been 100% NO, 0% YES, if we were listening to science.

The fact that it is 50-50 is tremendously disheartening.

How can we trust our fellow citizens to make good choices on complex issues like healthcare, taxes, foreign policy and other intricate issues when we half of people think their food is poison and that farmers are killing them-- and there's not a shred of science to support that claim?

And I'm not letting the other 50% off of the hook, as a large portion of that group voted based on a commercial that scared them about what would happen if "YES" passed.

Can we please have a national science-based dialog?  Can politicians have the backbone to bring science and scientists into this conversation in a big bold way?  Can we make some hard federal law that just puts this nonsense to bed?

The amount spent on defeating these measures would pay for a lot of research.  It is a shame it is spent on television ads to scare someone into voting a certain way.  This needs to change, and change now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Right to Know Begins with Learning

I just get sick when I hear proponents of Oregon 92 and Colorado 105 claim that they demand food labeling because they deserve a right to know.

In reality, there is no need for a right to know, at least as imparted by a clunky, expensive, and scientifically invalid law or amendment.  The right to know begins with a desire to learn.  A right to know begins with a willingness to listen to, and understand science.

As it stands, proponents of the ballot initiatives hope the right to know is a punitive tool.  It does not teach, it does not inform. It simply provides a means to distinguish food produced from certain farmers that chose specific seeds. It will be a way for them to conjure fear around perfectly safe foods, based on no real information. That's some powerful right to know.  What good is a right to know, if you know nothing, or worse, know false information?

What good is a right to know if you use it to harm farmers, consumers and the environment, let alone the needy that could benefit from advances in biotechnology?



Is it was really about a right to know?  
It if was, one could simply pick up a book and learn. 


The problem with demanding a right to know is that there is no "know".  There's no knowledge. There's no education.  It is plunging into idocracy where loud mobs of the uninformed shun independent, reproducible science, clinging tightly to the flimsy claims of one-off reports and activist fear tactics. But the TV doctor and the guy selling the book say these foods are dangerous.  Why are they dangerous?   Doesn't matter. It fits the construct they want to believe, so that's good enough.

Nobody really wants to know. They want to hear what reinforces their beliefs. 

So it is not about a right to know.  It is about a right to not know, to retain ignorance, to continue in darkness of fear and distrust. It is about a desire to shield from science, a hard choice to shun facts and trust beliefs of charlatans that profit from manufactured fear.

The beauty of the internet is that these reports should be rather durable and history will write itself around these events.  My hope is that we'll use these corny social demands for non-scientific changes as benchmarks of our primitive ineptitude.  We'll remember that we had many among us that voted if science was true or not.  We can see who is behind the stigmatization of good science as evil, and maybe quantify the body count and suffering they caused by fighting science.

It is not about a right to know.  It is about a want    to     not    know.  It is about sticking fingers in the ears and shutting out science.  The well fed and the affluent want a right to know, which is ironic, because they think they know everything already.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Manipulating Malleable Minds

One big difference between scientists and activists is that the latter have no problem using manipulating language to scare the public.  The former uses information to help the public make sound decisions.

Here's a stellar example from GMO Awareness.com.  It features fossil biotechnologist Dr. Theirry Vrain, a guy that used to work on the genetics of nematodes and used some molecular biology tools in the process.  Since his retirement, he's enjoyed the stage as one of the handful of sort-of-scientist darlings of the anti-scientific, anti-GM movement.

It bothers me when guys like Vrain and Huber use their former credentials to perpetuate bad science today.  Maybe I'm a little pointy because I was asked to analyze his YouTube video and it cost me an hour of my life I'll never get back.

However, it did help me understand who he is and why the anti-GMs love him so.




The sure love Thierry.  He tells them what they want to hear, and aside from a good 1980's understanding of molecular biology, almost all of it is wrong, and packaged to be cleverly deceptive. 


At least he starts out by saying "I refute" rather than making statements that claim to represent broader science.  Of course, the data show that yields are often better (despite no genes added to increase yield) require fewer insecticides and safer herbicides, which are of positive impact for the environment.

No evidence has ever shown them to be unsafe to eat. 

The last line is the winner-- Yes, they have been shown to contain allergens, the same allergens as in non-transgenic corn and soy!  Plants make allergens!  
In this little blurb it is cleverly stated to induce the freak-out factor, to manipulate the malleable mommy middle that will make decisions on fear over logic. 



So why does the anti-GMO movement love Vrain?   Simple. He has some technical knowledge of the techniques, that's quite clear.   He's the closest thing they have to a scientist with a clue, and he tells them exactly what they want to hear. 

So where did he go goofy?   According to web-based sources, about 10 years ago he retired and "reinvented" himself.  He now lives with his herbalist partner, and they teach workshops on organic farming.  So there you go.  Cultural Cognition 101.  If you are into curing your problems with herbs and organic farming, then you have to hate transgenic technology. 

Here's an excerpt from a radio interview that 'splains it-

An online bio gives some sense of where this nonsense all comes from.


The good news is that the dollars of the credulous will finance his appearances well into the next decade, as they line up to hear him slam good technology.  The bad news is that carefully crafted deception as seen above, will continue to plague scientific decision making, clouding the atmosphere on this important issue. 










Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Food Babe Visits My University

It was 6:30 pm in the lab and I was just thinking about the last things I'd need to get done before I could go home.  Typical night.  Usually I'm riding home about 7 pm, but an email popped up asking me if I was going to go watch the Food Babe.  A click on a link would take me to the note on a UF Dean for Students Good Food Revolution Events website.  Vani Hari would be spreading her corrupt message of bogus science and abject food terrorism here at the University of Florida. Oh joy.



There's something that dies inside when you are a faculty member that works hard to teach about food, farming and science, and your own university brings in a crackpot to unravel all of the information you have brought to students.


She might have started from honest roots.  Her story says she was duped by an organic yogurt stand (join the club) into buying taro toppings that were filled with artificial, non-organic colors.  She realized that she could use social media to coalesce affluent consumers in a formation to cyber-slander change from businesses. Shove this dookie through a conduit of the science illiterate and...

An entrepreneur was born!

She found that a popular social media site was more powerful than science itself, more powerful than reason, more powerful than actually knowing what you're talking about.  Her discussion was a narcissistic, self-appointed attack on food science and human nutrition. There is a vein in my head that pulses when I hear someone deliberately misrepresent science for personal celebrity, and it was pounding. 

She went on about her exploits against Chik-fil-A, forcing them to change their formulation. She spoke about how she and her army of online vandals slammed Subway into removing a safe and useful food chemical from their bread.  She spoke of her "5 million person army" with a sly and knowing smile.  Vani likes Vani.


Who do you trust for real scientific information? 
This is why scientists go nutso.


Fallacy and deception. 

She went on about labeling GMO, making the argument ad populum that '64 countries label them so why don't we get the same rights?"  

She explained transgenic crops (of course not using that language) as dangerous, and untested.  There were claims about how the crops were linked to cancer and autism.  She also claimed that "GMO crops cause an increase in pesticides" which is completely false-- and she knows it.  Her words were cleverly chosen, carefully stated, so if someone holds her accountable she can weasel out.  

Food Terrorism. 

Hari then went on to talk about her successes in strong-arming Chick-fil-A, Budweiser and Subway into reformulating their foods and beverages.  She's proud that she was invited to corporate headquarters to force change, proud that a know-nothing with a following can affect change simply by propagating false information via the internet.  

That's not healthy activism or change based on science.  That's coercion, fear mongering and (yes) terrorism to achieve short-sighted political non-victories in the name of profit and self-promotion, ironically the same thing she accuses the companies of.  

Luckily, Starbucks didn't fold.  They refused her assault on Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and the demand for organic milk.  Unfortunately it was not corporate cojones it was likely simple economics. There's no way that they could source that much organic milk. Otherwise, Hari would have blackmailed them too. 


The UF Audience Reaction

There was a silver lining on that cloud.  I was really proud to see that the student audience was not buying it.  Throughout her presentation that was about Hari in the spotlight and "me-me-me", students got up and left.  She left gaping pregnant pauses where previous performances got applause-- only to hear nothing. Not even crickets.  This audience was not buying it, at least as a whole it was not excited by it.  Maybe they just wanted a Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.


No Question and Answer Session

While microphones stood ready in the audience to answer questions, there was no public Q&A period where a scientist that knows the research could publicly challenge her false assertions.  The audience filed out of the building, and apparently she may have stuck around to meet with individuals. However, I wanted her answers in a way students could hear, helping them to critically assess the arguments of scholars vs. self-appointed celebrities.  Questions like:
  • Why am I blocked for posting hard science facts to your websites?
  • How do you feel about transgenic solutions to citrus greening?
  • What is your evidence for higher pesticide rates?
... and a dozen others.


Overall. 

It was disappointing.  If this is a charismatic leader of a new food movement it is quite a disaster.  She's uninformed, uneducated, trite and illogical.  She's afraid of science and intellectual engagement. She's Oz candy at best.

I guess I'm just angry because I didn't get to lock science horns with The Food Babe. I would have liked to have asked a few questions that she could never answer. Moreover, the funds my university spent to bring her here would have bought a lot of seeds for school gardens county wide, field trips to real farms, and the opportunity to visit functioning labs and ask questions of actual scientists.

But who needs actual scientists in lab coats with lifetime dedication to science, when you can have a fly-by-night activist profiting from ignorance?  After all, she is a (self described) babe... 

I have to put a lid on this post.  I have an undergrad spending her first morning in the lab tomorrow and I need to meet her at 7 AM.  If I teach her well, maybe she'll get to stand up and hold the Food Babe accountable for her junk science someday.  That would make me remarkably happy. 


   





Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Other Side of Robyn O'Brien's Glowing Huber Review

Dr. Don M. Huber was hit by a car on October 8, which prompted Robyn O'Brien to write a glowing assessment of his mission and claims in her Healthy Bites page at Prevention.  The title is Dr. Huber's Brave Crusade Against Biotech.  I thought it would be appropriate to share a scientist's perspective, and show his angry crusade against science, reason and a certain public scientist that made him accountable for his claims.

Of course, I do wish Dr. Huber well and hope for a speedy and complete recovery. The burdens of injury in the elderly can be a challenge to the injured as well as to the family, so I hope he is well soon and without long-term consequences.  This is a difference of ideas.  Relative to science, it is critical that we find the truth about his mysterious pathogen.  If it is true, the first Edible Arrangement on his porch will be from me, and I will happily assist in further study in any way possible, as I have offered already.  If it is not true, and he has been using this ruse to frighten concerned audiences for a decade-- then I want him to admit that.  Whatever the outcome, science inevitably will shine its light on the truth, and I'm thrilled with either outcome.

O'Brien's report is consistent with my understanding of Dr. Huber through 1990 or so.  He is a father and grandfather many times over.  He maintained the title "Colonel" for 40-some years.  He was a recognized plant pathologist and an expert in his area with international reputation.  I know many people that were his students, co-authors and colleagues. They think he's lost his marbles now, and are sad to see it happen.

The Prevention article only exists because Huber makes claims, without data or evidence, that confirm O'Brien's non-scientific synthesis. Plant pathologists, like any plant biologists, are unknowns to the public, and only those (well, the one) that throw their support behind the anti-GMO movement are welcomed into their big goofy tent of misinformation.

Her article on Prevention's website is a technical train wreck. She/Huber don't have a clue how glyphosate works (that it inhibits the activity of the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) and is well understood).  It is not functioning by chelating divalent cations like manganese, magnesium, etc as she/he claim, at least in no major way.  The math just does not work, I could easily explain it all here, but that's science, and silly to use to counter non-scientific claims. Basically, the scientific rigor of her piece leaves lots to be desired.

Nonetheless, a picture of Huber is painted as a tireless retired academic treading against a current of angry paid-off critics and paid dupes of the agrochemical industry, and she does so with her usual effective writing and careful words that manufacture perception of risk where little, if any, exists.


Where it Starts: November 12, 2013

Dr. Huber was invited to give a talk in Gainesville, FL where I live, and I could not wait to go.  I went with another professor who specializes in organic and sustainable crop production. We're friends and lots of her local clientele would be there.  Huber gave his talk.  I recorded it on a pocket digital recorder and it was video recorded by the organization hosting him.  I took 22 pages of notes, feverishly.  Science was deceptively shown and carefully contexted to scare the bejeebus out of those in attendance.

And it worked.  The audience emitted audible gasps when he showed grotesque images of aborted calves.  The audience winched when he showed Seralini's lumpy rats.  He gave a compelling and credible presentation from a platform of a Ph.D. scientist-- and it made me furious because science was being used to satisfy an agenda, not to teach or inform.  My blood boiled.


Huber Exposed

The whole story is here.  Briefly, when the presentation ended the organizer from Florida Organic Growers and Consumers recognized me in the audience and made a comment about how I'd disagree with everything Huber said, but could ask a question.

I didn't ask a question.  I offered my assistance.  Huber claims to have cultured this mystery thingy (he used to call it a micro-fungus, then it was a new pathogen, now it is a prion or "biomatrix") so I asked politely if he'd be willing to share it with the broad scientific community.  My lab sequences DNA all the time, and we could sequence and assemble the fundamental genetic code from his mystery pathogen in a few weeks.  I offered to pay for it personally, make all data public, and do everything in an open access format- where he would receive all the credit (as revealed on the recordings- below he'll insinuate that I demanded his organism so I could in essence steal credit from out from under him).

For the next 9 minutes and 7 seconds rambled about how the self-replicating organism has no DNA (contrary to what he says in Genetic Roulette's updated version where he says, "The DNA is being sequenced" @~32  min), that his Chinese collaborators are doing it, and then telling me "why don't you just culture it yourself?"  I also asked him about specialized containment for safety and he said that there was none.

Bottom line-- Busted.   After this point, in all of his subsequent presentations, his organism would have no DNA.



About 31 minutes into the updated version of "Genetic Roulette" Huber and Jeffrey Smith discuss the "New Organism" that exhibits "filamentous growth in pure culture".  Shortly after this time he even says that DNA has been isolated and is being analyzed, yet when asked to help sequence it-- it has no DNA!




Huber Tries to Inspire Administrative Action Against Me

Being publicly called out in front of his credulous supporters didn't sit well with Dr. Huber.  A five-page letter showed up in the office of those that I report to, and ends up with our Senior Vice President.  I was called to his office.


Page 1 of 5.  Pages of false information that can be verified as false against the recordings.  Unfortunately nobody knows where the video disappeared to.  Still, audio was sufficient to verify my position and demonstrate Huber's malicious intent to harm a public scientist. 



The first line reads:

This is his opening salvo.  The only ethics being breached here are a letter fully of legally-actionable lies that were intended to harm my career.  If questioning extreme scientific claims and offering assistance is an "ethics concern and unprofessional conduct" then Huber knows less about science than I give him credit for. 



In the letter Huber meshes some factual statements and flat out lies.  He starts out correctly pointing out that I contacted Florida A&M University where he was giving a talk the previous day.  I provided my input on his controversial claims.  This is a copy of the email that I sent to FAMU Small Farms coordinator Yolanda Thomas, who apparently forwarded it to Huber.  Fine with me, glad to see what side of the science she's on too.




This is my email to the FAMU person hosting his visit, appearing here as it appeared 
in Huber's letter as 'Exhibit 1'



Threats and Malice? No, That's What We Call "Science"

My note to FAMU, followed by my offer to help him sequence his new self-replicating cultured organism that has no genetic information and is killing plants, cattle and humans didn't sit well with Huber.  Personally, I think I was always rather soft, and that is verified by the recordings.  However, he communicates to my superiors that my words were intimidation and threats.




I can read that email a thousand times along with my blog. Not sure how it could be considered threatening. But the victim must continue to paint himself as the victim, or Robyn maybe doesn't want to write, the speaking invites end, and he looks like some kind of nutty old dude making up stories of GMO unicorns.


Of course, after his  talk I was the one that sought him out and shook his limp little paw as he was hustled out of the room telling me, "Go isolate it yourself" over and over again.  No malice intended, never-- but I am calling for honesty and proper use of science, which a promulgator of scary science fiction might find a threat to their claims.

His letter then reports to my bosses a note from this blog. My lab had a submitted article that was declined for the fourth time, and I noted that in my blog on a rather rejection-heavy Sunday.  He informed my superiors that I was "journal shopping" and impugned my scholarly credibility.  Of course, he failed to mention that the paper was an edgy concept incorporating diverse areas of analytical chemistry, genomics and plant breeding that did not fit well in any one journal.  Rejection was not the experiments or conclusions-- it was not a good fit for the best journals of our discipline.  We sent it to Current Biology, PLoS Biology, and other solid journals before it found a home in a very good journal, BMC Genomics.  The paper has been widely noted as fresh and innovative (E. Triplett, pers.comm.).


The Fun Just Keeps On Coming



Discussed in the next paragraph. 
 I don't know what his misunderstanding of photo or blog time stamps is.
In computers, Dr. Huber, we can ask them to post things at later dates. 


If my kind offer was construed as a demand, then he really is off his rocker.  He goes from talk to talk, claiming this dangerous and deadly pathogen and the critical need to stop use of GM crops and glyphosate.  I simply asked him if I could help solve the problem.  When you tell the emperor that he has no lab coat, the emperor's memory gets a little foggy. Luckily we have audio and plenty of witnesses (who were moved by his performance, but later were blown away when I showed them the Huber letter-- they saw what a malicious smear he intended).

I never "demanded" anything.  I never said "prove it as a fraud" or anything of the sort, never would. That's not scientific.  If his mystery organism is real, then I hope to contribute to a solution and illuminating the critical problem so that we can stop the use of products that harm plants, livestock and humans.  However, until that point, we have only the words of a single retired professor that spews ancient claims with no evidence-- and conjures libelous hellfire to his critics. 

No published competence?  I asked if he'd share a sample of a culture for an open-source, public sequencing project, a place where I maybe have a little competence. I was one of the pilots of what turned out to be one of the first open access, public sequencing efforts. 


Wow.  Arrogance and ignorance. Glass houses.


Again, it is now him as a victim.  He was caught in his own apparent deception. Usually his audiences are pie-eyed minions that buy into his unpublished garbage, dotted with concerned people genuinely seeking information about biotechnology.  He's not used to someone qualified offering to lend assistance to help him with his science (in genome sequencing and assembly where HE lacks competence), he looked bad in front of his audience, and so he must lash out.  I have never  engaged in name-calling, abusive language, or a harsh disposition. I have maintained a critical skepticism of his evidence-less claims, and only got prickly once he started gunning for me


It Continues


The guy scaring audiences about a mystery organism wants me to get counseling. Remember, this went to my superiors. Who is demeaning and abusive here?


The next paragraph goes on about how I demand the pathogen be turned over to me so that I can publish it and get my name on a paper.  I said, with no question, "Dr. Huber, you get all of the credit" and it is on the audio.  Someday I will make that public too (it was fun listening to the audience turn on him and plead with him to share the pathogen cultures with the wider scientific community). 



I think he get's it a little wrong again. I never made a demand, and the "blog slogan" (emphasis Huber's) actually is a quote from Norman Borlaug, a guy not really known for expectations of servitude and others for his glory.



And to put a lid on it... The only counseling I received was 
rolled eyeballs and assurances of support. 


In Summary

 I have always been clear about my feelings toward Dr. Huber. I recognize his accomplishments.  To me his decorated past makes his current claims even more curious.  I've never been out to damage him personally, as he is doing a fine job of that himself.

As a participant in the self-correcting discipline of science, I am obligated to both skeptically criticize claims, especially those made without evidence.  I should intervene in public education, especially where the public is led astray by twisted science and again, claims without evidence.  I should offer to use my capacities to help build evidence on his behalf if his claims do have merit and simply need additional expertise that I possess.

However, his note to my superiors crosses a line.  What you see here are excepts from a letter he sent that are filled with (using his words toward him) false accusations in a malicious attempt to damage my person and discredit my science.  Huber's no victim, he's on the attack. He's trying to damage my credibility and career.

I never wanted to write this note or reveal the letter's content. O'Brien's characterization paints a false picture of a kind scientist trying to fight the machine.  Ironically, Huber is a major cog in a broken machine that spits out bad science and misleading information, paralyzing adoring audiences with fear, and confusing public discourse in biotechnology.  And if any scientist of credibility gets in the way-- he won't address them directly.  Instead, he sends a lie-laded communication to higher-ups, seeking someone to hush the scientist, find formal reprimand or even get them fired. That says a lot right there. If you can't address the science, take down the scientist.

It was almost a year ago that I offered to sequence Huber's mysterious self-replicating culturable pathogen that lacks genetic material.  One year later, this breakthrough science, that could be wrapped up in weeks, remains a reality only to Huber and his legions of credulous true believers.

My hope is that he is well after his accident, that he recovers fully, and with his recovery finds an awakening to either provide proof of his claim via publication, or come clean and say he was just making the whole thing up.  Let's put this issue to bed.  

His followers will still love and cherish him, they'll make up claims of Monsanto's Blackwater special-ops hitting him with the car and then waterboarding him into recanting.  He'll get a free pass from his followers, take back some reputation, and get some respect from his critics- including me. 

Until then, we're still waiting.  It was important to show he is not a kind-hearted grandfatherly victim fighting for the little guy-- not in the anti-biotech arena.  Quite to the opposite, he is a credentialed scientist twisting science and creating myth to frighten people. He also showed here that he is willing to fabricate information to harm the careers of public scientists that simply request that he provide evidence for his claims.

























Wednesday, October 1, 2014

100 Billion Animals Over 15 Years

As someone that has followed recombinant DNA technology for almost four decades, I can remember the awakening of the technology.  As it moved toward implementation, I remember what activists said.  I remember dire predictions of doom and gloom, of horrors and suffering.  Most predicted that every animal consuming GM feed would be dead within days, maybe a year if they were lucky... including humans.

Here we are 18 years later, and none of those predictions came true. None.

Of course, papers like the famous Seralini Lumpy Rat Extravaganza argued that consumption of transgenic crops, or the herbicide used on them, caused massive and grotesque tumors (that the controls got too- but the authors conveniently forgot to show).

For over twelve years retired plant pathologist Don Huber has traveled the globe, warning of a GMO-based pathogen that is killing humans and animals that consume the feed.

Based on their dire predictions, it is a wonder any of us are still alive.  Especially the animals.  Cattle, pigs, chickens-- all they get is GM foods, >95%.



Based on predictions from activist community in the 1990's, Serlini's rat study, and Huber's mystery pathogen, these animals consuming 100% GMO diets surely would be sick or dead! 
Turns out, nothing is different. 

A new paper from Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam and colleagues includes a survey of USDA information since the 1980's.  Over this time, over 100 billion animals received careful assessment for important characteristics.  In 1996 the animals switched from non-GM feed to almost 100% GMO feed.  What horrors unfolded?

None.

Zip.

Zilch.

The animals did just fine, the same before and after GM crop introduction.  Not better, not worse, the same.  As predicted.

Of course, critics are scurrying to move goalposts and downplay the findings.  They can't approach the data with reason and evidence.  Instead, they are feverishly scouring university records to identify any distantly feasible hint of corporate collusion, fabricated relationships that they could spoon feed to hungry believers shocked by scientific data that don't support their flawed cherished pseudo-scientific conclusions.

Sure, there are limitations to the data, just like any data set.  However, they do show that 1990's predictions, Seralini and Huber are wrong.   These animals grow rapidly, change quickly, and any issues in health reflect dramatically in animal health metrics. Even small differences would be conspicuous in such a massive sample size. Yet no changes were seen, suggesting that the products were benign, as predicted.  Food. Simply food and nutrition for growing animals.

100 billion animals, 100% GM diets, no sign of any disaster.  Watch GM opponents dance in an attempt to discredit these data, while fervently standing by none of their own.