Farmers vs. Monsanto: What’s the real agenda?


Any time anyone tries to take down a brutal behemoth like Monsanto, you have to gives them kudos. It’s well known that they are ruthless in their pursuit of farmers who unknowingly have their crops cross-pollinated by the company’s GMOs. Monsanto has a nasty habit of stomping on and extorting money from innocent farmers in their patent enforcement efforts. So when it was announced that a coalition of organic farmers and seed growers were suing them for the aggressive enforcement, people applauded.

But is there an agenda behind the patent angle? To hear advocates of suit, the answer is yes. They are hoping GM foods get banned. That’s pie in the sky thinking. This is a lawsuit about patent infringement, nothing more nothing less. It’s a legal argument. The judge hearing oral arguments, Naomi Reice Buchwald noted at the beginning of oral arguments, “It should come as no surprise to you, we have read most of the papers, and, frankly, from my point of view, the issues here are very legal in nature and involve reading cases, something which we [the court] can do without assistance.”

Dan Ravicher is the Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation, (PUBPAT) a public interest organization that “represents the public interest against undeserved patents and unsound patent policy.”  Ravicher argued in court:

“Here is the concern: When you’re a farmer, and you’ve been contaminated by genetically modified seed, you can’t tell  that. It’s not like your neighbor’s tree fell on your property which is open and notorious. The seed comes over because their seeds haven’t been modified to create different plants.  Their corn and our client’s corn looks to the eyeball exactly the same. It tastes the same. It feels the same. It is exactly the same in all respects. The only difference is their version resists herbicide known as glyphosate.” (my emphasis)

Anti-GMO advocates must have winced at that one.

It is not known what other strategies they have up their sleeves if a trial is allowed to proceed. That decision comes on March 31st.  If they are smart, they will stick to the patent angle and not bring the argument that proponents would like; that GMO foods are unsafe and haven’t been thoroughly tested. If they do, they open themselves up for an onslaught of established science which can hurt their chances of victory.

I haven’t read through all the court filings but an article at triplepundit.com says “the lawsuit claims that GMOs and organics cannot coexist.” If they claim that, they are opening themselves up to the argument that neither can conventional farming co-exist with organic farming. The lawyers have to tread a fine line and stay on point.

Can’t co-exist? Raoul Adamchak teaches organic production practices and manages the certified organic Market Garden at UC Davis. He told me in an interview last year of how Professor Matt Liebman of Iowa State University managed to combine conventional, GM and organic methods. “In an effort to see if the conventional herbicide tolerant GE corn/soybean rotation in the midwest could be made more sustainable, he added a small grain and alfalfa to rotation and used compost to supplement fertility. With this system he was able to reduce herbicide use by 82% and synthetic N use by 74%, while maintaining yields and economic return.”

In the triplepundit article cited above, Elizabeth Archerd, director of a Minneapolis food co-op was quoted as saying, “Pollen and DNA do not play by the USDA’s rules.” She’s right. They don’t. The same problem exists with conventional crops. Why aren’t they advocating elimination of those? Cross pollination is a known issue with any kind of crops and farmers take to steps to minimize that problem.

Jim Gerritson,  a Maine organic farmer and Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association President said, “We don’t want their technology.” Gerritson should know the technology wasn’t invented by Monsanto. Monsanto has become the boogeyman in the anti-GMO fight. Advocates seem to have this misguided notion that if you bring down Monsanto, GMOs will go away. On the contrary, if you bust Monsanto’s hold on GM seeds, you will see more small biotech companies and universities getting in the game. And, considering around 70% of all foods on supermarket shelves contain some GMOs, its disappearance is highly unlikely.

I think PUBPAT is smart and won’t argue anything that will harm their case. They’re not scientists, but patent lawyers.

Side note: When the idea of a so-called terminator seed was floated which would prevent unintentional cross-pollination, the very same people who were up in arms against its adoption are the same ones who are now up in arms about cross-pollination of their plants. Life’s a biotech bitch, eh?

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Organic brown rice syrup contains high levels of arsenic


Proving once again that that organic doesn’t automatically mean safe and healthy, a team of Dartmouth researchers have found that organic rice syrup, used as an alternative to sugar and other sweeteners can contain levels of arsenic above EPA safety levels.

The website, Dartmouth Now, reported:

“With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the savvy consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the danger,Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including toddler formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.”

The EPA limit for arsenic is 10 parts per billion (ppb) for total arsenic. One infant formula contained arsenic twenty times that limit. Twenty-two cereal bars tested ranged from  8 to 128 ppb in total arsenic.

Read the article here

Fear of a GM Planet V: Q&A with Raoul Adamchak


I emailed Ronald and Adamchak with some questions and Adamchak took time out of their vacation to answer a few:

Q: What do you see as the major misconceptions of GE among the public?

Adamchak: GE is a tool that can help agriculture reduce pesticide use, reduce crop loss, reduce harmful environmental inputs, and help reduce soil erosion. Sometimes it is the most appropriate tool, sometimes not. What is important is building a more sustainable agricultural system. In the US a few corporations have dominated the use of this technology, but in China, India, Brazil, Korea, Argentina and other countries where feeding their population is a critical problem, the governments and universities are developing GE crops.

Q: Is your GE research different from that done by commercial companies like Monsanto?

Adamchak: Pam does basic research on plant/pest or stress interactions. Her intent is to broaden the understanding of how plants and pests signal each other at the molecular level.

Q:  How high is the probability that “drift” will contaminate non-GE crops?

Adamchak:  It depends on the crop. Some are self-pollinating and some are pollinated by wind or insects. Some crops are harvested before flowering, some after. What does contaminate mean?  If the traits encoded by the inserted genes are harmless to humans and environment and improve the sustainability of agriculture, what is being contaminated? All crop systems that are improving sustainability need to be able to coexist. Researchers, regulators, and farmers need to work together to make that happen.

Q:  How much “non-commercial” research is being done by other public institutions/scientists?

Adamchak:  If you look at university plant genetics labs all over the country, you will find 90% of the students are from other countries. As I said above, China, India, Korea, countries in South America, want to be able to use this technology.

Q:  How successful have you been in combining organic farming with GE?

Adamchak:  Because National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GE crops, there are no certified organic farms that can use them. Therefore, the only combining of these technologies is being done on conventional farms that have integrated leguminous cover crops, compost, or integrated pest management systems into their GE cropping systems in order to meet their goals for improved sustainability. The best example of combining organic farming practices and GE crops is work that was done by Professor Matt Liebman of Iowa State University. In an effort to see if the conventional herbicide tolerant GE corn/soybean rotation in the midwest could be made more sustainable, he added a small grain and alfalfa to rotation and used compost to supplement fertility. With this system he was able to reduce herbicide use by 82% and synthetic N use by 74%, while maintaining yields and economic return.

Q:  If this combo of technology and conventional organic farming gains widespread acceptance, how long do you see before it becomes a viable method on a large scale?

Adamchak:  That is a big “if”. The more large scale growers are committed to reducing harmful environmental inputs and soil erosion, the sooner the combinations of organic farming practices and GE crops will be widespread.

Q:  How does GE differ from conventional breeding and what are the drawbacks or “dangers” of both methods, if any.

Adamchak:  I hope you can get this answer from our book. The National Academy of Science in the US, the Royal Academy, the French Academy, and EU commissions have all found that the risks of GE crops are same as conventionally bred crops.

Q:  How is GE viewed by other scientists outside of the biotech community?

Adamchak:  Most scientists believe in the integrity of peer reviewed science. Since the peer reviewed scientific process has shown that GE crops are safe and have been used for 15 years on billions of acres with no environmental or human harm, most scientists think that the use of GE crops can provide benefits to agricultural systems.

Q:  How much, if any, resistance have you got from the organic farming community?

Adamchak:  The organic farming community has not supported this idea. Some members of the community think that we are advocating using GE crops in certified organic systems, but we are not. We are advocating using organic farming practices in GE and conventional farming systems in order to improve their sustainability. Coexistence is also a challenging concept for the organic community. It will take effort on the parts of all participants to make it work on a case by case basis, but can be done.

______________

There is no argument that a radical change needs to happen in modern agriculture. Corporate ownership of the food supply is not the answer and neither is small scale organic farming. (In the last 15 years, conventional organic farming is still only 3% of our food supply) Ronald and Adamchak have seemed to come up with a solution, but have come up against the agricultural Luddites.

Farming doesn’t have to be the province of corporations, but too many AGMs are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by not even entertaining the idea of responsible GM combined with organic and conventional farming.

Approval of GM crops is a long, tortured, expensive process which few universities and small companies have the wherewithal to pursue. Ironically, it is these very rules the AGMs support even though it gives large agribusiness a lock on the method.

There is no doubt that Monsanto, Syngenta and others are greedy multinationals. But why let them control the food of the future? AGMs need to embrace the new technology instead of acting like frightened, superstitious villagers.

Dr. Ralph Scorza from the USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station said that when farmers and consumers have no choice, then the new technologies will be accepted.

Fear of a GM Planet IV: The Future of Food


During weeks of immersion in this topic, I came across work done by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak, known as the Romeo and Juliet of academic agriculture. Both work at UC Davis. She is Professor of Plant Pathology and he teaches organic production practices and manages the certified organic Market Garden at its student farm. Both are top notch in their fields .

They are big proponents of the using organic and conventional farming methods in combination with GM as a means of creating sustainable, environmentally friendly farming. Their published a book, Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. A review at organicgardening.com says the book is “interspersed with nuggets of science, home made recipes (really) and anecdotes.”

The duo is also featured in an online video. It is a talk they gave at The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco and is called Organically Grown and Genetically engineered.

Now, you would think that being smart people, the AGMs would want to see what these people have to say. But you would think wrong. The issue is settled. GM is bad. No need to hear from these scientists. And then they point you to more pseudo-scientific articles that bolster their stance.

Ronald appeared on the TV show Dr. Oz last December to clear up some misconceptions and refute the worst “woo woo pseudoscience” but it was difficult. (That’s right TV doctor who wears scrubs on his show is in the AGM camp.) As she wrote on her blog, “It was a tough go, though, because one of the other panelists… with no discernible scientific or agricultural training… believes that eating GE crops causes infertility, organ damage and endocrine disruption. Of course, the scientific evidence for these statements is about as strong as saying that looking at carrots will give you brain tumors.”

And who was the anti-GM guest? None other than the yogic flying, Jeffery Smith.

She also wrote, “What we do know is that after 14 years of consumption there has been not a single instance of harm to human health or the environment.”

Wow. That’s a pretty bold statement. Who is this woman anyway? According to her university bio, “Ronald was a Fulbright Fellow from 1984-1985, was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2000. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a 2008 Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. In 2008 she and her colleagues were recipients of the USDA 2008 National Research Initiative Discovery Award for their work on submergence tolerant rice. In 2009, they were finalists for the 2009 World Technology Award for Environment and nominees for the Biotech Humanitarian Award. In 2009 she also received the National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Journalism Award.

That submergence rice thing? She and her team developed a strain of rice that can withstand 17 days of flooding in places like Bangladesh. They spent 10 years working on it. In an interview in 2009 she had this to say about “unintended consequences” which AGMs always point out when discussing the issue. “Everything that we eat today has been improved through some sort of breeding process. Any time you do this, you introduce not only the genes that you know, but some that are not characterized. Some of the risks with conventional breeding are that you introduce genes with unintended consequences.”

What? That can’t be. Conventional breeding carries risks? Who knew? Scientists, that’s who. They did precision breeding, which is the ability to introduce very specific genes into plants without the danger of other genes that might transfer over in conventional breeding.

Next: Q&A with Raoul Adamchak

Fear of a GM Planet III: Crop drift and cherry picking


If the AGM debunked evidence isn’t enough, they can resort to cherry picking. One AGM site takes to task a claim in the early Aughts. It was a sensational claim by a Dr Emile Frison who proclaimed that the banana was on the verge of extinction and the only thing that could save it was GM. Well, as it turned out that wasn’t exactly true and he worked for the multinational agribusiness, Syngenta.

The AGM site GMWatch correctly pointed that out and cited some legitimate research that showed there were other ways to save the banana. But here’s where it gets tricky. They reprinted a letter from banana scientist, yup, you read that right, banana scientist, Dr. David Jones to New Scientist Magazine taking issue with that claim, saying other methods of conventional breeding would work. However, GMWatch neglected to add the last two sentences: “Many banana scientists, including me, believe that genetic engineering should complement rather than replace conventional breeding strategies. (emphasis mine) Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket.”

The intention is to mislead the reader into thinking that Jones is against GM. And I could be wrong here, but I believe Dr. Jones’ statement saying that GE should compliment existing strategies is a common position in the scientific community.

The issue of drift is a big concern of the AGMs and they claim that drift from GM crops will contaminate non-GM crops.

The truth is that drift can occurs even with conventional crops and varies from crop to crop. Farmers take this into consideration when planting and take steps to minimize it. Plant geneticists do the same thing. They factor in, on a case by case basis, that probability and according to the likelihood of that happening.

One of the big pieces of misinformation that gets passed around and repeated is the story of how GM corn pollen on the U.S. Mexican border was contaminating corn crops in Mexico. While the story of contamination is true, scientists are at a loss to figure out how it happened.

Corn pollen is “heavy” and doesn’t drift that far. The fact sheet for Ohio University’s Horticulture and Crop Sciences says that “at a distance of 200 feet from a source of pollen, the concentration of pollen averaged only 1% compared with the pollen samples collected about 3 feet from the pollen source The number of outcrosses is reduced in half at a distance of 12 feet from a pollen source, and at a distance of 40 to 50 feet, the number of outcrosses is reduced by 99%…The number of outcrosses is reduced in half at a distance of 12 feet from a pollen source, and at a distance of 40 to 50 feet, the number of outcrosses is reduced by 99%. Other research has indicated that cross-pollination between corn fields could be limited to 1% or less on a whole field basis by a separation distance of 660 ft., and limited to 0.5% or less on a whole field basis by a separation distance of 984 ft.”

So, how did Mexican corn get contaminated? The region where it took place is the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca region which is almost in Guatemala, at the bottom of Mexico. Given what the data says in the previous paragraph, it seems something else was afoot. It should also be noted that this took place in 2001.

A Guardian article from 2001 reported that GM corn was banned in Mexico in 1998 and the closest field was 60 miles away and that was too far for the pollen to travel, “It was not clear yesterday when the contamination took place, but the scientists speculated that it originated from GM maize bought from the US as food aid for the impoverished region in central Mexico, and had progressed over time via multiple pollinations.”

So, while there was cross-pollination, the facts lean toward the idea that it was imported corn and not cross-border “drift” as the AGMs claim.

Next we come to the idea that GM plants have not been thoroughly tested and all kinds of scary mutations can happen including causing pregnant women to give birth to babies with cabbage heads. Okay, maybe not cabbage headed babies.

Anastasia Bodnar is doctoral candidate at Iowa State University in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture. She addressed this issue in some detail elsewhere and gave me permission to post it here. So, here are some of the facts surrounding this issue:

Plants that have been genetically engineered undergo many levels of screening and breeding to remove unwanted mutations.

Genetically engineered crops are tested by event. An event is a single instance of a gene being integrated into the genome of a single embryo or other plant part (depending on the species being genetically engineered). Sometimes the gene will integrate in the middle of an important gene and effectively cause a mutation (those would be removed from the breeding program). Other times the gene will integrate in a place where it isn’t interfering with other genes, which is what we want.

In the process of creating a genetically engineered crop a lot of events are created, and they are tested to see where the gene integrated and if there are any strange characteristics that might indicate an unintended mutation. Any plant that isn’t what the breeders/genetic engineers want is destroyed. The events that pass then go through a breeding process called backcrossing, which essentially replaces all the genetic material from the transformed plant line with genetic material from an untransformed plant line, except for the region around the gene that was inserted. This ensures that any mutations caused by the transformation process are not left in the final line.

Mutations happen all the time. There are natural mutations due to DNA replication errors and due to mutagens like UV light from the sun. There are all sorts of strange chromosomal rearrangements when two related species are crossed. And so on. There are also intentional mutations caused when a plant breeder exposes seeds to a chemical or radioactive mutagen to try (on purpose) to induce mutations that might produce new and valuable traits. What happens if there are harmful mutations? If a plant breeder notices something weird in one of the plants, it’s removed from the breeding population and either destroyed or kept for further study if it is interesting.

Science!

Fear of a GM planet II: Bad science and good science


Steven Salzberg, is a professor at the University of Maryland whose bailiwick is bioinformatics, genomics, and evolution. In a blog post he clears up some misinformation about GM foods. He also notes, “The bottom line is, you’re far more likely to be harmed by being hit on the head by a corn cob than by some kind of deviant GM corn gene. “

Back in 1999, a controversy arose when the Lancet published an article which claimed that GM potatoes were dangerous. It was published despite the disagreement of some of the peer reviewers. According to the NY Times, the editor decided to publish it, “to spur debate and to avoid being accused of suppressing information on a controversial subject.”

The Royal Society, Britain’s senior scientific academy, reviewed the work and declared it “too flawed to draw any conclusions about the effects of the transgenic potatoes, in part because because the experiments had lacked proper controls.” The editor of the Lancet wrote, the paper “is flawed in many aspects of design, execution, and analysis and that no conclusion should be drawn from it”.

A report in the Telegraph regarding the issue said the researcher, Dr Arpad Pusztai appeared on a TV show announcing the results of his study. Funny thing, though. He claimed to know the results before the data was analyzed. How could he know what the outcome was? “A properly designed experiment uses codes so that the person feeding the rats does not know whether they are feeding modified or “control” food to the animals, so that their observations of the results are uncoloured.”

Well, his bosses at the Rowett Institute made him retire. After the TV Show they called in all the data and talked to those involved and issued a press release apologizing for “the release of misleading information about issues of such importance”.

The reason I cite this particular case is how the AGMs have been spinning this. The anti-GM blog, Food Freedom had this take: He became a hero at his institute — for two days. Then came the phone calls from the pro-GM prime minister’s office to the institute’s director. The next morning, Pusztai was fired. He was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, his team was dismantled, and the protocols never implemented. His Institute, the biotech industry, and the UK government, together launched a smear campaign to destroy Pusztai’s reputation.

His experiment didn’t hold up to scrutiny, but what do the AGMs claim? An orchestrated smear campaign was launched against him. The entire biotech industry lined up against him. Pusztai appeared in two TV interviews in January and April of 1998 and then again on August 10th. He was fired two days after his third appearance, eight months later. Apparently, the Pro-GM prime minister’s office must have missed those first two appearances. There is no evidence that the PM’s office made that phone call.

This defense of Pusztai reminds me of the 9/11 Truthers response when Popular Mechanics debunked all their fake science regarding the collapse of the Twin Towers. They claimed Popular Mechanics was a CIA front.

Yet, among the AGM crowd he is still regarded as a hero. His study couldn’t be flawed, it was a big agribusiness conspiracy against him. One of his supporters is Jeffrey Smith, who wrote an article defending him in January on the Huffington Post.

Another misfire is that GM is nothing more than a way for multi-nationals to gain control of the world’s food supply which simply, is not the case. A good example is golden rice.

The inventors of Golden Rice are Ingo Potrykus, Professor emeritus of the Institute for Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Professor Peter Beyer, of the Center for Applied Biosciences, University of Freiburg, Germany.

The rice was developed in an attempt to aid the poor in developing countries who suffered from a lack of beta carotene and Vitamin A.  Lack of these vitamins is a major cause of blindness in chldren in those countries. Yet the AGMs have attacked this and have used it as more evidence of the evil of big agribusiness.

While it is true that originally the claims for the rice were exaggerated. The AGM sites say that a kid would have to eat 10lbs a day to get their daily requirement, which sounds like an exaggeration itself.

But back in 2005, British scientists solved that problem by creating a version of the rice which provides “more than 20 times the amount of beta-carotene in its predecessor, or enough to provide 100% of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A from just 70g of rice. And guess what? They’re giving it away for free. Well, kind of. Although the rights to commercialization of the rice will still be held by a company called Syngenta, seeds are donated free to the Humanitarian Project for Golden Rice and given to poor farmers in developing countries.

The U.S Government is involved as well. Last year they created the “Honeysweet,” a disease resistant plum that solved the problem of the plumpox virus devastating the plum crops in the Adams County, Pa. In order to contain the virus and keep if from spreading across the U.S. the only method to stop it was to pull up the trees and bulldoze them before the disease spread. Should they have waited for a “natural” method? Should they have let the virus spread to the rest of the U.S and South America?

Next: Debunking the GM myths.

Fear of a GM Planet: Frightened Villagers and pseudoscience. Part 1


For the past few years, genetically modified food (GM) has been a controversial subject. It’s not only the safety of the food that is at issue, the multinationals that seek to own the seeds that grow the food is also a contentious issue.

No one can support multinational agribusiness ownership of our food supply. That is a legitimate fear. But are the fears of the safety of genetically modified food a valid concern? To listen to the detractors of GM, the answer is absolutely. But are they right?

In recent conversations with community garden friends and others who are on the anti-GM (AGM) bandwagon, I found the issue goes beyond Monsanto and to the technology itself. So, I looked into this to see if their fears were warranted. What I found was…well…what I found was what Carl Sagan once said; it is ironic that we live in a time so dependent on science and technology, yet know so little about science and technology. The AGMs don’t seem to understand the concept that the same technology can be used for good or bad.

AGMs make references to “evidence” that confirms their belief. Mostly though, the references are vague. “Studies have shown,” “Scientists say…” There is a lack of links to the specific studies and scientists to which they refer.

They must get their information from somewhere. So where? Off to the internet I went and what I found was very disturbing. Bad science, fake science, propaganda and outright lies. All in the name of a political agenda. AGMs take it all as gospel and react like frightened villagers in a Frankenstein movie.

To confirm their fears, they latch onto any and all so-called “research” that supports their belief without ever looking to veracity of such studies. It’s classic confirmation bias. When it comes to this issue, they hold their own along with the anti-vax, anti-evolutionists, 9/11 Truthers and Birthers. They rely on dubious science and blindly accept such absurd notions like GM crops destroyed the middle class in Egypt and that caused the Egyptian revolution. Anything that supports their view is legit, while anything that contradicts it must be industry funded. It’s pathological.

The fact of the matter is all the scare stories about Frankenfood are just that, scare stories, but these folks firmly believe in these stories. It’s the Agricultural Luddite meme, as the kids say.

We’ve been eating GM foods for years. Approximately 80% of all of our food has been genetically engineered or contain GM products. Russet potatoes, papaya, corn, flour, cookies are just some of the GM foods we consume.

My research turned up evidence that there is nothing inherently wrong with GM food and many reputable public institutions are doing research in this area. A perusal of dozens of science blogs and websites showed that actual scientists, biologists and the like shake their heads in dismay at the anti-GM crowd. These aren’t corporate shills, but independent scientists .

In a message thread on Facebook, I was pointed to an article that cited a study where GM soybeans fed to rats led to underweight and smaller offspring and the males’ balls turning blue. It only took about ten minutes to find the actual study which, as it turns out, was discredited. Adding to the trouble was the little matter that the researcher announced her non-peer reviewed results at a press conference held by an anti-GM group. The researcher, Irina Ermakova, is an anti-GM activist.

That’s the rub with the “studies” AGMs cite. They are either bad science or they misrepresent the findings. And they keep repeating the results of these flawed studies.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) is a source of anti-GM propaganda and bogus science. This seemingly legit group is listed on Quackwatch and was mentioned by the Organic food brand Nutiva as one of their sources in their announcement pledging $25k to stop the implementation of Monsanto GM alfalfa, approved by the Obama Administration recently.

Their position paper on GM claims GM “consists of randomly inserting genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another.” Bzzzz. Wrong. It is selective, not random.

Later they definitively state, “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects” and then go on to list them.

And then…..“GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm….” They haven’t been properly tested, yet there is ample evidence of probable harm?

They do give citations for some of their claims. I took a gander at some of them and noticed that at least three were discredited studies. One of them was the discredited mice study by Irina Ermakova. I didn’t have the energy to go any further.

One citation stuck out and that was a book called Genetic Roulette, by Jeffrey Smith.

You will meet him again in this article because he seems to be the media’s go-to guy for anti-GM information. He even has a blog on the Huffington Post. He isn’t a scientist and has no experience in agriculture either, yet he is considered an expert on GM. He has two self-published books on genetic engineering.

Not much else is known about Smith. His bio and resume are vague. What is known is that he is the founder of The Institute for Responsible Technology, an anti-GM organization. In a previous incarnation, Smith was a member of the Maharishi Natural Law Party in Iowa whose solution to the crime problem was “yogic flying.”

Roulette has been discredited by real scientists. The organization, Academics Review, looked at the book to see how his claims stacked up against peer reviewed science. They do a chapter by chapter takedown of the book. The group describes their mission as being, “committed to the unsurpassed value of the peer review in establishing sound science. We stand against falsehoods, half-baked assertions and theories or claims not subjected to this kind of rigorous review.”

Tomorrow: More bad science