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.

monsantomonopoly

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.

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.”

Anti-GMO activists react to GMO experts with claims of bias.


Anti-GMO activists have finally showed themselves for the dolts they are. I just came across this post on the Red, Green and Blue website. (via the activist site GM Watch) The post, Yes, scientists are attacking the latest Monsanto study – but not because of the science seeks to discredit the scientists quoted in the Science Media Centre’s (SMC) press release attacking the Seralini corn study. And, oh yeah, it’s spreading to all the anti-GMO websites.

What do they have to say?

1. They put the word experts in quotes as if there is some question as to their expertise in the biotechnology field.

2. Then they criticize the experts because they actually work in the biotechnology field and are experts.

3.  They actually make money doing what they do in the private sector.

Apparently, the above things disqualify these experts from giving an informed unbiased opinion.  I guess it should come as no surprise, since science is not the strong suit of the anti-GMO crowd. They prefer to get their facts from non-scientists; yogic flying dance teachers, and snake oil salesmen. By their logic, we shouldn’t go to organic farmers to get opinions on organic farming, since they make money in their, ahem, field  of expertise.

This latest salvo is just another lame  attempt to deflect their totally bankrupt stance by questioning the motives of the opposition. They don’t have the science, so all they have is to accuse people who actually work in the field of science as having a corporate bias. It’s really pathetic. These activists didn’t respond to the veracity of the quotes, they simply cried corporate bias.

But wait, there’s more. They even question the objectivity of the Science Media Centre who issued the release.

It’s also telling when scientists put out a press release denouncing a study the same day that the study comes out. This presents the appearance of a PR response, rather than a considered objective analysis.

Case in point: The Science Media Centre of London (which bills itself as “an independent venture working to promote voices, stories and views from the scientific community to the news media when science is in the headlines”), put out a harsh press release the same day as the study – fast work, considering that it quotes eight top scientists!

Not only did they quote scientists, most of those scientists gave specific  reasons why the study was flawed. That’s how bad the study was. They could find problems right off the bat. While conflicts of interest should be taken into consideration, more emphasis should be given to what the person is actually saying.

But who is the SMC? The article seems to question the idea of their independence. Here is what the SMC says about itself:

The Science Media Centre is funded principally by donations from trusts and foundations, science bodies and other organisations, companies, charities, and government and related agencies. Since 2002 it has received support from over 100 organisations and individuals, reflecting the number and diversity that recognise the benefits of the improved science media landscape the centre enables. The Centre maintains its independence by capping the donations it receives, the vast majority of which are equivalent to less than 5% of its running costs. This is with the exception of the Wellcome Trust, Drayson Foundation, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council which funds the position of events officer at the Centre.

Their entire donor list is available on their site.

Number one on their hit list was the corporate devil Professor Maurice Moloney, Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research. Not only does he drive a Porsche with license plate, GMO, he developed a seed that is now owned by Monsanto and…gasp!…he launched his own GMO company. This what they have to say. “Prof Moloney’s career and business activities have long been centered around GM.”  (my emphasis) What a shock.

In May of this year, Moloney took part in a Q&A on the commercialization of GM research for the website senseaboutscience.org. He said something I have been saying here at Contrary for a while:

 In fact, much of the opposition to GM has played into the hands of the corporations who would like extended monopolies. The activists have forced the science into a corner that only large corporations can manage financially. Public institutions are the best places to move forward such ideas.

The article failed to mention all the science journalists and scientists who weren’t quoted in the press release who have weighed in on the study.  Curiously, or not, the anti-GMO campaign has failed to come up with one scientist to defend the study.  How about that?

In addition to the flawed science, journalists took issue with the pre-publication embargo where the researchers forced reporters to sign a non-disclosure agreement which forbid them from seeking comment from outside sources. Journalists who were considered, friendlys allegedly didn’t have to sign any agreement

In an article in the San Jose Mercury News, Prop. 37 flack Stacy Malkin defends the newest discredited study by saying they used the same methods as the biotech companies. How would she know that? Prop 37 supporters claim Monsanto won’t release their information for independent study. So, how does she know that the biotech companies use the same methods? The fact that she has the brass to continue to defend a study that has been discredited by the scientific community says all you need to know about the credibility of the campaign.

The Prop. 37 folks really screwed the credibility pooch on this one. While Red, Green and Blue and GM Watch questioned the idea of scientists responding the day the study was released, they didn’t seem to have a problem with the Prop. 37 folks calling a press conference right after the study was released. When the shit hit the fan they scrambled to come up with a way to save face.

If they were honest they would have said, “Oops. We blew it on this one.” Instead, they dug in their heels.

Here are few articles that take issue with the Seralini study:

Anti-biotech study and corn ban is a mockery   This is a short podcast interview with Bruce Chassy, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

On the Media on NPR: Manipulating Science Reporting

Turning point from the French maize study: GM Opponents look like climate deniers

GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left

Bad science about GMOs: It reminds me of the antivaccine movement

GM Corn-Tumor Link Based on Poor Science

Another flawed GMO study, again


Gilles-Eric Seralini is back in the news again. He’s released yet another study that shows Monsanto’s Bt corn causes tumors and multiple organ damage. Seralini has done this study twice before and both times they were discredited as majorly flawed. The reactions to this one has met with the same reactions.

The big question many are asking about this study is this: If after 16 years GM corn being on the market, why haven’t we seen people “dropping like flies,”  from eating the corn?

Reuters has a good article which seeks out other expert opinion on the study.

Mark Tester, a research professor at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide, said the study’s findings raised the question of why no previous studies have flagged up similar concerns.

“If the effects are as big as purported, and if the work really is relevant to humans, why aren’t the North Americans dropping like flies? GM has been in the food chain for over a decade over there – and longevity continues to increase inexorably,” he said in an emailed comment.

David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge said the methods, statistics and reporting of results were all below standard. He added that the study’s untreated control arm comprised only 10 rats of each sex, most of which also got tumours.

This new study will be sure to be added to the bad and anti-scientific arsenal of the anti-GM crowd. Will the anti-GMO crowd notice the skepticism of other experts? Yes, but they will ignore it and ask, “How much is Monsanto paying them?”

Update: The Huffington Post re-posted the Reuters article but left out the criticisms from the above scientists.

Update:  8:16PM EDT: The HuffPost has responded to me and said they would update the article to include the criticisms.

Also, here are more quotes about the study (thanks to Hank Campbell at Science2.0) Link