March against Monsanto: NYC version


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First off, if you’re going to have a protest about how we’re all being poisoned, you need to have it led by healthy, well-fed, good-looking people.

Second, you need music and what better music to have than the Occupy Wall Street All-No-Star Band with special guest, Zuccotti Park Sax Guy.

Saturday’s March against Monsanto was everything I expected it to be. The one thing I didn’t expect was how the protest stayed on point. In almost every protest I’ve participated in since the 1970s, there were always groups pimping their own causes(s) which took away from the actual issue of the protest. This one didn’t.

One of the reasons may be this isn’t really an issue that resonates with the wider progressive movement. Or maybe it was just a problem of outreach.

I missed the rally, but I did arrive in time to catch the march to Washington Square where there would be a teach-in where people could discuss the issue in groups. What that meant was let’s stand around looking serious and nod our heads knowingly in agreement. Washington Square was a sea of signs plastered with all the bad science and misinformation and surprisingly, I had very few Woody Allen-Marshall McLuhan moments.

My first encounter was with a guy who had a button that read, Stop Monsanto. Ask me why. I did and he wouldn’t tell me. Seriously. I said, “You have a button that says ask me, so I am.” He sheepishly smiled and responded, “That’s just what the button says.” Then he scurried away.

My next little chat was with a woman manning(?) a table. She was actually very nice and claimed to be a nurse. She echoed the talking points about weed resistance, mono cropping etc. I explained that weed resistance was an age-old problem and farmers have always had to stay one step ahead of the weeds. It wasn’t just a gmo problem. That’s where I got my first dog head tilt.

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I asked her if gmos were so dangerous, why were they so popular among farmers? “Well, they want to make a profit, right? Next!

Meandering around and listening in on the discussion groups it dawned on me, every discussion was one talking point after the other. It was like listening to the gmo rerun channel.

I came across a how to detoxify from gmos discussion. It was more a pitch for Isogenics than a real discussion. But even though the audio in this short video is bad at times due to the wind, what I want you to see is the guy at the beginning.  He is rambling on about the new proposed strain of gmo wheat that will eat your liver and kill your kids. He makes another appearance later.

I saw a trio holding signs, one of with the usual gamut of the dangers of gmos. Where did she get her information? “Have you ever heard of the Institute for Responsibility Technology?  I’m not sure if I actually physically cringed, but I had to explain to her the history of Jeffrey Smith.  Second dog head tilt of the day or maybe it was blank stare.

They were thinking of taking their protest show on the road and join some others in Times Square. I warned them that might not be such a good idea because the cops don’t “take kindly to protesters going off the Rez.”  They could wind up in the jail for the holiday weekend.

One guy said, “I’ll ask that cop over there. Here hold this.”  And he handed me his sign. Not wanting to seem like a party pooper, I took it. The result was this damning photo taken at my request.

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Finally, I came across Vegan Guy.  He had a nice little crowd.  As I walked up I heard him saying, “Don’t take my word for it. Look it up yourself. Look at the ingredients in vaccines…” I immediately spoke up and asked if he was anti-vax.  He stopped mid-sentence and looked at me, eyes wide and smiled a toothy, Vegan grin,

“I”m not taking about vaccines right now but that is a conversation we can have privately.”

“But are you anti-vax?”

He ignored it and continued talking as I said, “Oh, so you are,” getting a slight giggle from the crowd.

That’s when I noticed Liver Guy standing next to me. I had to talk to this guy. He said he was pro-vaccine which I said was a good thing. I asked him why he called gmos contamination. He told me that just because it’s created in a lab doesn’t mean it’s not contamination.

The conversation turned to pesticides and I asked why Bt was okay when sprayed by organic farmers and not okay when one of the genes was engineered in the plant. I explained Bt was weak and degraded quickly in the environment due to rain and sunshine which necessitates more spraying… Well, you can listen to part of it here.

Now, this was that guy from the earlier video who was talking about the gmo liver, kid killing wheat and he tells me that I should have brought my sources with me? The last line of that audio cracked me up. I told him yes, and his last words to me were, “I’m moving over there,”  and then skedaddled. The audio at that point is weak. I really wanted to post that.

I  didn’t get a chance to ask him if he had his sources with him about the child-killing gmo wheat, but he was gone in a flash. I should have led with that.

So, what did we learn? We learned that although many people had signs about tumerous rats etc, very few them knew who Seralini is and weren’t familiar with his study. Around the same number didn’t know who Jeffrey Smith is.

Among those who did know, there were many head tilts when I mentioned Seralini and Smith were frauds who refuse to publicly debate scientists who want to challenge them.

Probably the biggest eye-opener was that for the first time, the real agenda was out in the wide open. It’s not just about labeling. The end goal is to eliminate gmos. There were no Just Label It signs. It was all about ridding the world of the poison of gmos and sending Monsanto packing. It’s about the misguided notion that if you bring down Monsanto, you eliminate the technology of gmos.

It’s about time the activists running the shows in various states come clean. They’ve been allowed to dance around the issue for too long. Labeling is a red herring. If they feel gmos are so dangerous, then why stop at labeling?

The final takeaway was that, given my non-confrontational conversations, save Liver Guy, I’ve come to believe the fanatical, fire-breathing,  anti-gmo crackpots on the interwebs are just that, crazy keyboard jockeys who have no relation to  their real world counterparts. And that’s the depressing thing. (Although, I have a sneaking suspicion Liver Guy is one of those people and he escaped from the basement. Earlier in our conversation he said he wasn’t there to debate, but to “impart information. Not to discuss or debate, but impart” )

I want the anti-gmo crowd to be this one-dimensional cartoon. It would make it much easier to dismiss them.  Instead, they’re nice, friendly, smart, well-meaning dumbasses. Just the kind of people I could hang around with and well, pretty much do.

Oh, I almost forgot Illuminati Guy. I had no clue what the hell he was talking about, except the fact we were the only ones who are hearing this information. I’m not quite sure what that information is, but I am one of the lucky few outside the Illuminati that knows it.

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The dark side of the anti-GMO movement


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Each year in Third World countries, millions of children go blind or die from the lack of Vitamin A. Wouldn’t it be great if scientists could come up with an easy solution to this human disaster? Well, they did.

Professor Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg in Germany found a solution. They created something called Golden Rice. It is rice genetically modified to produce higher amounts of vitamin A.

Given that rice is a staple in Asia and elsewhere, this was an easy way to help poor children get the nutrients they need. This beneficial creation didn’t go unnoticed by the anti-GMO/Organic activists and they wasted no time in attacking it. They have spread all kinds of unfounded rumors and lies about Golden Rice.

When MIT researchers conducted a trial with children in China, not to determine if they rice was safe, (it is) but to see if the rice did indeed deliver adequate amounts of Vitamin A, Greenpeace launched a propaganda campaign, accusing the researchers all kinds of ethical violations and using the kids, unwittingly as guinea pigs. They made such a racket that the Chinese Government freaked out and fired the Chinese researchers involved and paid compensation to families.

Greenpeace and others have continued their assault, holding up approval of this modern life saving measure. In the meantime, millions of kids are going blind and dying.  It is unconscionable and cruel, but that’s what the anti-GMO movement has become.

Greenpeace, a $300 million a year enterprise, full of well-fed, healthy, sighted westerners is advocating denying a life saving measure to poor children because their worldview disagrees with GMOs. It’s grotesque. There should be some way to haul them into the European Court of Human Rights.  That may sound like hyperbole, but considering they are campaigning to thwart life saving measures for millions of children, they should be held accountable.

But they aren’t the only ones waging a murderous campaign. Other groups and activists like Vandana Shiva also oppose saving children and starving people because the food may be GMO. As I wrote back in January,

Needless to say she hates GMOs.  This is where her rhetoric becomes dangerous. She hates them so much that she attacked OXFAM on their GMO stance when they were engaged in cyclone relief efforts in Orissa, a state on the southeast coast of India. She tried to persuade them to not supply GMO foods writing in an open letter that “We hope your food aid will be G.E. free.”  Shiva’s groupWomen for Diversity demanded the Indian government “immediately withdraw the corn-soya blend from Orissa.” Apparently it was better for people to starve rather than eat GMO food.

She hates “golden rice,” a non-commercially developed GMO rice with higher levels of Vitamin A which can prevent blindness in children. Millions of Third World children go blind each year due to lack of Vitamin A, yet Shiva would deny these children because GM is evil bad and golden rice is a“myth” and negates, “nature’s diverse gifts and women’s knowledge of how to use diversity to feed their children and families.” 

This descent into  cruelty can be traced back to 2002 in Zambia. At the time, the country faced food shortages and people were starving. The U.S sent food to help alleviate the disaster. Then, in waltzed foreign activist groups who convinced the Zambian Government that the food was “poison.” Zambia then warehoused all the food aid and refused to distribute it to their starving people.

The president of Zambia said today that his country, which is inching toward famine, would continue to refuse relief food that may be genetically modified, calling such food ”poison” and saying it is ”intrinsically dangerous.” ”I’m not prepared to accept that we should use our people as guinea pigs,” Mr. Mwanawasa said.

“Poison.”  “Dangerous.” “Guinea pigs.” Sound familiar?

The anti-GMO movement has decided the ends justify the means. They blatantly and without remorse, peddle dangerous nonsense.  When they aren’t peddling the imagined dangers of GMOs, they are vociferously defending and trying to rehabilitate the reputation of  the anti-GMO Gilles-Eric Seralini,  whose widely discredited RoundUp studies on rats was widely condemned by the scientific community.

In his quest to prove harm, he chose rats prone to tumors and allowed them to live longer than ethically acceptable in order to be able to show hideous pictures of rats with gigantic tumors. Science ethics experts, having seen the disturbing images could tell that Seralini had crossed ethical parameters in the use of animals in experiments.

A recent report by experts in medicine, pathology, food regulation and plant science found that Seralini’s study showed a “regrettable example of failures at multiple levels during the execution and communication of research.

The study appeared to sweep aside all known benchmarks of scientific good practice and, more importantly, to ignore the minimal standards of scientific and ethical conduct in particular concerning the humane treatment of experimental animals.

The report also says that there was an “abject failure” to “treat the experimental animals in a humane manner within standards of regulatory authorities, with the aim of “propagandising”.

The ends justify the means.

UPDATE:  At a recent Academia Europaea conference at Cambridge University, the co-inventor of Golden Rice said,

“If our society will not be able to “de-demonise” transgenic technology soon, history will hold it responsible for death and suffering of millions: people in the poor world, not in overfed and privileged Europe, the home of the anti-GMO hysteria.”

Everybody Panic! Eating GM wheat will destroy your liver!


On comment boards across the vast interwebs, people swear they suffered from all kinds of physical ills until they gave up eating GMO foods, more often than not, it’s genetically modified wheat. There’s only one problem, there is no genetically modified wheat on the market.

Therein lies another problem with the anti-GMO crowd. They ascribe all kinds of disease and physical ills with the introduction of GMO foods.  It’s what is called a logical fallacy.

Activists rely on correlation=causation; the idea that because two things happen at roughly the same time there is a cause-and-effect relationship.

The activists claim since the introduction of GMO food, there has been a rise in asthma, allergies and all kinds of scary diseases. So, using their logic we can conclude that organic food may be causing these things. After all, the rise of the organic food movement pretty much parallels the rise of asthma, allergies etc.

It’s simplistic, non-critical thinking. It’s a cognitive bias that results in confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is a “tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions” and to dismiss any information that contradicts that preconception. We see this all over the place in regards to GMOS. The comment sections are rife with it.

Any information that doesn’t paint GMOs in a negative light is suspect, worse if it attempts to correct misconceptions about GMOs. Commenters will refuse to entertain the idea that they may be wrong. They will never accept contrary evidence. They respond with claims of bias and the ever popular meme, “How much is Monsanto paying you?” The confirmation bias on this issue is so deep it’s almost pathological. It’s like arguing with a creationist.

This is one of the reasons I have a problem with modern-day progressives. Somewhere along the line, the anti-technology, anti-progress mentality of the hippie got cross-pollinated with the progressive mentality of the political left and created a progressive imbecile hybrid. And I should note this happened conventionally and not through genetic engineering.

The problem is, for the most part, this hybrid isn’t stupid. They may be imbeciles, but they’re not stupid. In fact, I would venture to guess that most of them are well-educated.

What’s even more depressing is they’ve wittingly, or unwittingly aligned themselves with fringe nut jobs like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and fellow traveler, alternative health freak Mike Adams.  Both of these crazies are on the anti-GMO bandwagon. Both think the Aurora shootings were a black psyop by Obama.

They believe wackos and dismiss actual experts on the issue since they have convinced themselves that worldwide, every biotech scientist, scientific organization and writer who doesn’t blast GMOs has been bought off. I knew Monsanto was rich, but to have the wherewithal to buy off thousands of scientists, their organizations, government agencies and journalists is quite a feat.

Yet, they don’t stop and think how absurd that is when they say it.

Progressives need to be even more skeptical of activists on their side than they do of corporations. It’s a given that corporations are weasly and only in it for the money.

Yes, Monsanto is bad, but you have to separate the tech from the corporation that uses it. Again, here’s bad logical thinking. Monsanto is bad. Monsanto uses biotech. Therefore, biotech is bad. I now that’s a logical fallacy but I can’t think of what it’s called at the moment. Any reader know?

Before jumping on a bandwagon, progressives should stop and think, “Who’s pushing this agenda? Why are they pushing this agenda? Most importantly, don’t accept anything simply because it fits your worldview. Ask, is it true? It’s okay to be wrong. It happens.

Progressive thinking and the rise of the anti-science left.


When Chris Mooney’s (no relation) book, The Republican War on Science appeared in 2005, the liberal/left applauded. Mooney set out his case about what a menace Republicans were to science. He was right, but I remember thinking at the time, that’s all well and good, but I see much of the same anti-science mindset on the left side of the aisle.

I thought to myself, someone should write a book about the anti-science mindset of many in the progressive/liberal/left community. Someone just did. It’s Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left.

The result is a no-nonsense, sometimes brutal and sometimes funny book that progressives should read, but won’t. It was written by Hank Campbell and Alex B. Berezow. Campbell is a science writer and founder and editor of Science 2.0. Berezow is editor of RealClearScience and has a Ph.D in microbiology.

In the introduction, the authors go out of their way to make sure that readers will not take this book as an attack on all progressives, nor a defense of the right. They are taking aim at what they call the kooky left. After reading this book, I believe they underestimate how the kooky left’s ideas have drifted into mainstream liberal/left.

The right is not more anti-science than the left; it just has terrible public relations. Progressives have mastered the feel-good fallacies, and they’ve become so proficient at it that they are able to convince and sometimes bully the scientific community into playing along

Science Left Behind takes aim at progressives’ technophobic tendencies, anti-corporate bias and obsession with relativism at the expense of empirical proof. 

The book doesn’t dismiss all of the the pet issues of the left. They present a good case of why, for example, even though solar power is a good idea, the progressive approach to it is flawed and based more on emotion than good science; that their approach to science is based more on their worldview than the facts and evidence.

They do however, reserve special scorn for the anti-vaccine, alternative health and anti-GMO activists who they feel are not just misguided, but down right dangerous in their beliefs.

There are not many things in life that shake our faith in the intelligence of humanity more than the anti-vaccination campaign. The movement is predicated upon outright lies, and it poses a deadly threat.

One of the misguided beliefs I found interesting was the idea of water conservation. They use the humorous example of low-flush toilets and such helpful hints such as turn off the water when brushing your teeth. The amount of water we use as teeth brushing poopers only uses up 12% of the water supply. Thermoelectric power accounts for 49% and irrigation is in second place at 31%.

I have to admit, I hate low flow shower heads; so much so that I am a green outlaw. When I bought my new shower head I popped the gasket out that makes it a low flow. I now have a full flow shower head and man is it sweet.

Another, “Who knew?” moment is the impact wind farms have on birds. Wind turbines kill anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 birds each year. That sounds like a shitload unto you realize that each year in New York City alone, 90,000 birds fly into windows and die. Nationally the toll is from 100 million to 1 billion. Power lines and cars kill another 200-250 million. But wait, there’s more. Each year domestic and wild cats kill another 500 million.

Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket, all those birds die every year and yet they’re still all over the place. If they weren’t killed I don’t believe it would be a stretch to say that we would be welcoming our new avian overlords.

The above are just a few examples of what they cover in this book. But the bird issue is just one of the examples of how progressives can be for something and against it at the same time.

While progressives champion alternative energy, they are the biggest obstacles to implementing those alternatives. The book gives examples of a few instances of that mindset. They want alternative energy, but balk whenever anyone tries to build a solar plant or wind farm citing environmental concerns. They don’t get the concept that any form of energy, renewable or not will have an environmental impact.

I recently wrote about this in a post called Environmentalists oppose renewable energy they support. I must give credit to the authors because it was their book that gave me the idea to look into it.

What gives this book credibility is the authors did their homework. The book is heavily footnoted and they do make their case, for the most part, using facts and evidence. That is not to say you can’t quibble with their take on some things.

Fracking and the Keystone Pipeline, are two instances, I didn’t necessarily disagree with them, but think they are a little too sure about the safety of both. I understand the idea of risk/benefit, but I think they need to be a little more skeptical. While no major league catastrophes have occurred, there have been incidents that do raise questions.

The authors correctly point out that fracking has been around since the 1940s, but new methods and technology have been invented that some say might pose a threat to water supplies. In trying to find out the real facts about fracking, I wound up being more confused.

Because of this, I very might very well earn the wrath of the authors as believing in the precautionary principle which they claim too often impedes progress when no clear risk has been shown. I’ll cop to that in this case, but that’s only because I don’t have all the relevant facts to make a decision one way or the other.

While the authors say to trust in science, they qualify it by saying you shouldn’t blindly accept it. They suggest critical thinking. That’s a quandary. Most of us don’t have the background in science to know what questions to ask when reading about a study or issue. We only have science journalists to rely on and according to Campbell and Berezow, they suck too.

They see the current state of science journalism as dismal. They call it churnalism, simply rehashing press releases and not asking the right questions. They also take issue with science journalists seeing themselves as defenders of science, which riles them to no end.  In their view they are more political cheerleaders than journalists. Unfortunately that results in them giving progressive anti-science nonsense a free ride.

So, what happens when progressives are called out on their anti-science nonsense?  The progressive critics trot out creationism and climate change as the reason the right is more anti-science.

Is this true? I decided to see for myself. I found the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. In a poll done in April of this year they found that just over half of Republicans believe climate change action should be a priority. In a surprise result, 84% of Republicans believe clean energy should be a priority.

A poll on the website Audacious Epigone, cited in the book, found that in general, Republicans and Democrats are roughly equal in science knowledge.

As to the creationism argument, that is surprising as well. In a Gallup Poll in May, they found while 49% 59% of Republicans believe in it, an astonishing 41% of Democrats believe it too.

In conclusion, (he said, not having a decent transition here) this book is an honest, non-partisan look at the anti-science mind of many progressives, which despite its strident tone, exposes the fallacies of the left, just as the title says. Ah, who am I kidding? It’s a Sherman’s March against the misguided, idiotic, anti-science thinking that plagues too many progressives.

Child’s coloring book too complicated for anti-gmo crowd


Recently Monsanto put out a coloring book for children explaining what biotechnology is. Some people have a problem with that. One of those people expressing concern is a columnist Christine G.K. LaPado-Bregliafor who writs for the Chico California newspaper, the Chico News Review.

In her column Keeping up with Monsanto, she writes, “the book is filled with a lot of disconcerting information about biotechnology, which largely has to do with genetically modified food, but nowhere in the book is the term “GMO” or the like mentioned. Instead, the friendlier-sounding “biotechnology” is the term of choice throughout the publication.”

Well, that’s what gmo is, biotechnology. GMO is a broad term that doesn’t necessarily refer to foods. If you want to be technically correct, the term that should be used is transgenic.

The UN defines biotechnology as any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.”

“This saves energy as well as the soil!”Tell that to those GM-crop farmers in the Midwest and the Southeast United States that are battling six-foot and taller “superweeds” that have developed a resistance to the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, after having planted genetically engineered “Roundup-ready” seeds.”

No weed has ever built up a resistance to an herbicide? Farmers have methods to prevent weed resistance. One of the main reasons these weed have become resistant is that farmers haven’t been following protocols and have been doing things like spraying only Roundup and too much of it. The idea is to use less.

Even more scary: “In the future, bananas could be grown with medicines inside them. This means people could grow their own banana trees to provide the essential medicines to protect against illness and disease.” I know I’m not alone when I say that I do not want to eat bananas “with medicines inside them.”

Oh my God! Run away! Run away! I wonder if LaPado-Bregliafor eats any food that has been fortified with? In any case, I don’t see what’s so scary about it? It may not be needed in the affluent western world, but this could help those in Third world where vaccine storage is not available.

Then we get to what I think is the bottom line:

Oh, by the way, the Council for Biotechnology Information is made up of the following members (are you ready??): BASF Plant Science, a biotech firm based in Germany; Bayer CropScience; Dow AgroSciences LLC; DuPont; Syngenta and … Monsanto.

It’s all about corporations. Corporations use the transgenic technology so it has to be bad. Even though they didn’t invent it. BUT, the internet was invented by the military and they use it so let’s label the internet!

Why are progressives so regressive when it comes to agriculture?


When I posted yesterday’s “dead bodies” post on my Facebook page, a friend weighed in with this response: “the progressive contrarian!! I hope this is as much bait as I take but…..it’s a nasty spiral, go ahead, take lots of antibiotics, eat animals that are fead antibiotics, wash everything with chlorine…..how’s that workin’? I ain’t doin’ that.”

His response made me think about the disconnect many progressives have when an issue like GMOs challenges their worldview. For the most part, these are intelligent people who experience severe cognitive dissonance around this issue. They refuse to believe the body of science of GMO is solid.  It doesn’t matter that all the major science NGOs have stated that GMOs are safe and there are over 400 peer-reviewed studies. Even the European Commission has come around.

The facts are only important when they fit their worldview I think it can be safely said that politically progressive types are going to be more prone to buy organic foods. And there is nothing wrong with that. They believe the food is healthier and growing it is better for the environment. It also has the allure of being anti-corporate which looms large in progressive culture. But I think the anti-corporate mindset is part and parcel of their rejection of GMOs. If corporations use it, it has to be bad.

While I am on the anti-corporate bandwagon, I think organic proponents have a delusion that organic is all mom and pop, small farms when in reality it isn’t the case. Organic farming is a worldwide $300 billion a year industry with industrial sized farms across the globe.

California leads the nation in the number of organic farms with 5,000. However, one-third of organic sales come from 19% of California farms.

Considering the size of the organic industry, could it be when they badmouth and denigrate conventional and GM farming that they too could have a vested interest as much as corporations? I think progressives fail to take that into the consideration.

They also tend to look to activist groups to bolster their beliefs rather than actual scientists.

Progressives believe that organic farming is environmentally friendly. But, it takes more acreage to get the same yield as conventional or GM. Plant pathologist Steve Savage analyzed USDA statistics taken from surveys of organic farmers and found:

“To have Organically produced the full output of 2008 US crops, it would have been necessary to harvest from an additional 121.7 million acres of cropland (based on 30 major crops and excluding crops for which Organic growers might be growing specialty types) That additional area would represent a 39% increase over current US cropland.

The theoretical, additional cropland needed (190,101 sq miles, 492,363 sq km) would be the equivalent of all the current cropland acres in Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota combined.

On a land-area basis, this additional area would be 97% the physical size of Spain or 71% the size of Texas.”

Doesn’t sound too environmentally friendly, does it?

(A side note: It should be noted that Savage is not anti-organic. He himself said he spent some years working on pest control products that would fit into organic guidelines.)

Another progressive mainstay is the belief that organic foods are the safest foods. That isn’t necessarily true. Because they are constrained by their methods, organic food carries its own risks. While there are less pesticides on organic crops, they can be higher in, or more susceptible to natural toxins. There are risks in all methods of farming. The fact is, it was organic sprouts from Germany that sickened and killed all those people in 2011, not conventional nor GM.

In 2006, the Institute of Food Technologies release a report that concluded:

“While many studies demonstrate these qualitative differences between organic and conventional foods, it is premature to conclude that either food system is superior to the other with respect to safety or nutritional composition. Pesticide residues, naturally occurring toxins, nitrates, and polyphenolic compounds exert their health risks or benefits on a dose-related basis, and data do not yet exist to ascertain whether the differences in the levels of such chemicals between organic foods and conventional foods are of biological significance.”

My friend mentions antibiotics used on animals. There is indeed an overuse of antibiotics use on livestock. But antibiotics have their place. Under organic standards, no antibiotics can be used, which can lead to the uneccesary suffering and death of livestock.  In 2010, In These Times, a very progressive publication, published an article, The Cruel Irony of Organic Standards in which they state, “The triumph of purist ideology over compassion and science means suffering and death for organic farm animals across America.”  “The organic movement must incorporate compassion into organic standards and allow the rare, regulated use of antibiotics.”

So, my progressive friends, the purist ideology creates situations like this:

“A few weeks later, another calf started to fail. Too weak to suck, Jordan let milk from the bottle leak into my hand as I cupped her head. The farmer weighed his options, and muttering in frustration and anger, reached for the antibiotics and the phone. He injected the calf and called the organic standards regulator to report that Jordan was no longer organic. The next morning the calf was back on her feet, but ruined as an organic milker. With that one shot, an ethical farmer lost much of his investment in breeding and maintaining quality organic stock.”

It doesn’t have to be either/or. Our food supply, despite the abuses of factory farming is the safest it’s been in history due to technological advances. Insisting on outdated methods that eschew modern tools doesn’t seem to be so progressive, does it? What is so progressive about embracing an agricultural method that was used in the days when food borne illnesses were rampant; when crops routinely failed?

Why do progressives insist on this all or nothing idea? Why can’t we take the best practices of all farming methods and combine them to create a healthy sustainable food supply? Why can’t we utilize the best technology to increase yields, increase nutritional value and decrease the prospect of food borne illnesses?