Clif Bar and Patagonia serve up lies about GMOs to school children

Clif Bar has a long history of selling using health halos to hide junk food.

School lunches have always been, and always will be, a controversial topic. The Reagan administration led to a brief policy that included ketchup as a vegetable, while the Obama administration seemed to be under the impression that school lunches are a leading contributor to childhood obesity.

Low income students are unfortunately caught in the middle of this food fight. Relying on federal aid programs for free and reduced lunch, these students have become political guinea pigs for extremists on both sides of the issue.

These students are more likely to suffer from obesity, and it would be easy to find a correlation with the fact that these students are more likely to eat school lunches. Leading factors of this is a lack of recreational programs and not having access to full service grocery stores. So what Michelle Obama got right was the need for more physical activity.

This is not to discount the importance of making sure students are eating properly. Not eating breakfast, for example, has a detrimental impact on student focus and performance. Conservatives will be quick to put the responsibility on parents, but as a teacher I could care less who should be responsible for feeding them. I just want my students fed.

Unfortunately some corporations are taking advantage of the public controversy. The Conscious Kitchen program (funded by Patagonia, Clif Bar, Whole Foods, Annie’s and Dr. Bronner’s) on its face appears to be an innocent attempt to expose low-income students to healthy food options they may not have access to at home. A look at the lesson plans teachers are assigned to use to go along with the meals reveal a Trojan Horse containing pseudo-science.

The section of the plans titled “Non-GMO” fortunately avoids any claims about GMOs causing cancer, but instead relies on a red herring about seed saving. Students are asked questions about why it is important for farmers to save seed, and what it means when they can’t.

The corporate propaganda leaves out the fact that many farmers stopped saving seeds long before GMOs came out on the market. Even organic seeds are often patented. Some GMOs are coming off of their patents, while others are offered by local governments and farmers are encouraged to save their seeds.

Not surprisingly, the lesson involving organic food also contains falsehoods. Students are asked to act out the different parts of a food chain “and watch as pesticides accumulate for the top predators”. The lesson leaves out the fact that organic farming also uses pesticides, some of which are more toxic than what conventional farmers use.

Attempts to encourage better eating habits for students should certainly be applauded. But low income students being treated to a week of healthy options should not come with corporate strings and propaganda based lesson plans attached to them. Pepsi is on the record stating that consumers will happily consume “high salt, high sugar, high fat” products when sold as organic and non-GMO.

Are students being left with the impression that Clif Bar’s organic peanut butter bars (with more calories per ounce than a Snicker’s bar) is healthy just because they say “organic”?

Take action. Contact Clif Bar and tell them to stop funding anti-science lesson plans.

1–800–254–3227

Email — http://www.econsumeraffairs.com/clif/contactus.htm?site=clif&topic=comment
https://www.facebook.com/clifbar/
https://twitter.com/ClifBar

We need to stop saying “GMOs are safe”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Cherry_picking_201127_(5991855207).jpg

The anti-GMO movement has perfected the art of cherry picking. They can be provided with mountains of evidence against their case, but if the slightest word or phrase is out of order they latch onto it to deny everything.

Take the mainstream media headlines that scream “GMOs are safe!”. The articles are generally very fact based and provide all the citations one could ever hope for. Unfortunately because doubt is their product, these extremists only need to refute the headline and not the rest of the article.

Actually the NAS stated they aren’t riskier than other crops

Their “refutations” typically sound like the typical science denial mantra, a mixture of fact and fantasy. They accurately explain that science can never be 100% certain that anything is safe or certain. The tobacco industry did this by not actually refuting cancer claims, but by saying “we just can’t know for sure”. Climate change deniers do this as well with their attacking of climate models.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/the-fallacy-fallacy

The problem is that they are right, which is why we need to be wary of the terms we use. Greenpeace hurts environmentalists because they scream about being sure the world is ending tomorrow, making it easy for the deniers to point out the flaws in that logic. Those of us (and I include myself) who state the scientific consensus as being that GMOs are safe are doing the same harm to biotechnology.

That isn’t the scientific consensus. The consensus is that the risks involved with the genetic engineering of crops is no greater than that of using other breeding methods. Given the random nature of artificial selection and the lack of a controlled environment, genetic engineering may actually be safer.

Food and Water Watch is just one of many that loves to point out that there is never 100% certainty in science.

Those who oppose biotechnology love to sing the praises of the precautionary principle. That until we can prove these crops are 100% safe they should stay in the testing phase. But as they like to point out, this can never actually be done. So by comparing the risk to that of other breeding methods we can call them the hypocrites. If the risk is no greater, than why not apply the precautionary principle to non-GMO herbicide tolerant sunflowers and patented organic tomatoes?

Ultimately that is the only sentence needed to debunk any anti-GMO argument. “There are no risks that can be applied to GMOs that can’t also be applied to non-GMOs.”

Anti-GMO fake reverend charged with trespass; extremists attempt to stop discussion on hunger

This past October representatives from around the world met in Des Moines, Iowa to discuss the challenges of food security and malnutrition. Protesters opposed to biotechnology being used as a tool in this fight were on the scene. Screaming about “Monsanto” the Union of Concerned Scientists circled in a truck, while the Center for Food Safety delivered a petition.

Another group led by a “Reverend Billy” also made an appearance. With the World Food Prize having a permit for the capitol, protesters were not permitted on the property for the private event. Refusing to leave the property when instructed by police, “Reverend Billy” was arrested and charged with trespassing. Forbes reported that:

The protest began in the designated protest area, across the street from the capitol ground. Talen and Cordaro later crossed the street to stand on a public sidewalk some 250 feet from the capitol grounds. Iowa State Troopers asked them to leave. When they did not comply, the two protesters were handcuffed and arrested for trespassing, a misdemeanor. The State of Iowa subsequently filed a motion asking for a ban on any First Amendment defense.

Forbes went on to insinuate that not allowing the first amendment to be used in a protest case was uncharted territory. This, however, is not a protest case. This is a trespassing case. The question is not whether or not they had a right to protest, it is whether or not they were on the capitol grounds during a private event when they did it.

Many anti-GMO organizations have picked up the story and are spinning it as Monsanto having him arrested and taking away his first amendment rights. There is no evidence that Monsanto was even aware of the arrest, let alone had communication with the police.

GMO Free USA insinuating that Monsanto is being protected by the State of Iowa.

Hypocritically, many people running with this story are connected with anti-GMO groups that stopped a pro-biotechnology protest from taking place on public land. On October 19, 2015 several large anti-GMO groups (with sponsorship from Joseph Mercola) received a permit for a World Food Day event of their own on the west lawn of the US Capitol for a “Food Justice” rally. A small group of protesters (including the author of this piece) came to protest their rally.

After complaints to the police from the rally organizers, the pro-biotech protesters were instructed to put their signs away and refrain from using their megaphone. As the Capitol grounds were open at the time for tourists they were allowed to remain, but they could not appear as an organized protest. They would have to leave the grounds and protest across the street. As the rally was quite small, and the Capitol grounds quite large, the protest would not be visible across the street. No arrests took place simply because the small group complied with the officers.

Pro-GMO protestors gathering at Greenpeace the night before the “Food Justice Rally”

The Iowa State Capitol grounds were not open for tourists at the time of “Reverend Billy’s” protest.

It is also important to note that the reverend is not actually a reverend. William Talen is in fact an actor that has been arrested more than 50 times for similar stunts. The reverend persona is a character he created for these performances.

This isn’t the first time the World Food Prize has faced criticism from the anti-GMO groups. The conference attached to the prize, known as the Borlaug Dialogs, is generally very willing to allow critics of the technology to attend. Last year Moms Across America founder, Zen Honeycutt, wrote about her experience there:

I got to speak to Erostus Nsubuga, chairman of the Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium, from Uganda. His main defense of GMOs was not that GMOs and related chemicals are safe, but that they have been trying for 20 years to grow bananas naturally and they have not been successful, implying that they need GMOs. He never indicated that Uganda might be a better place to grow other types of crops besides bananas.

This “let them eat cake” attitude prompted a quick response from Patricia Nanteza, a Cornell fellow from Uganda that works on the banana project:

Honeycutt clearly has no idea that Uganda has been growing bananas for over 300 years, and we have been doing so “naturally.” She has no idea what bananas mean to us as a country (we have over 30 varieties for cooking, roasting, and eating as desert), and therefore she has the audacity to suggest, to a Ugandan, that we should grow something else, instead of trying to save our staple food crop using available tools such as genetic engineering.

Honeycutt, like William Talen and Forbes, appears to assume that because Monsanto pitched in for the event that it was all about promoting biotechnology. Yet 2016 winners of the award included individuals who used selective breeding to add vitamin A to sweet potatoes. At least one sponsor of the event on the same donation level as Monsanto, Howard Buffett, has even been mentioned by anti-GMO groups as being critical of both Monsanto and genetic engineering.

Bill Gates was quoted at the event saying that he “met a more diverse array of people at the World Food Prize in Des Moines than at any other conference they had attended anywhere in the world.” CEOs were certainly present, which appears to be one of the points of the event. According to the awards web page:

“The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.”

To do that the World Food Program calls for public and private partnerships. The days of colonial powers dictating how and what the developing world should grow are over. Today public and private institutions are offering their help in building self sufficiency. Biotechnology is just one of many tools being offered.

Iowa shouldn’t be relied on to feed the world.

How my life was saved by the anti-GMO movement

 

Today my Facebook page about loving GMOs reached 100,000 followers, the same month of my third anniversary running it. I often get accused of being set up with help from Monsanto or Ketchum. The truth is that I am a creation of the anti-GMO movement itself. `

In January of 2014 I contracted mononucleosis and was stuck home for a couple of weeks. The fever blisters in my mouth got so bad that even eating was difficult. Spending a lot of time on social media as a distraction, I stumbled on a YouTube video called I Love Monsanto (NSFW). At the time I had never heard of GMOs or Monsanto. I began to see a lot in common between the arguments used by the anto-GMO movement and the anti-vaccination movement.

I have always enjoyed arguing about politics and religion, so I jumped right into it. Being a teacher I thought it would be fun to share what I was learning. I created a page called We F***ing Love GMOs and Vaccines, and began using it to comment on Monsanto’s page and elsewhere on Facebook. In less than a month I was at 1,000 likes.

This is when the first stalker decided to contact the principal of the school I was teaching at. Very politely and ignoring most of the person’s email, I was asked if I would mind dropping the expletive. So in February We Love GMOs and Vaccines was born.

It was about this time that I looked at the scale. My weight had gotten out of control over the previous decade. When I realized that I had lost 10 pounds while sick and eating so little, I vowed to keep it off.

Prior to this starting the page I had fallen for all the catch phrases and marketing gimmicks. Fat free salad dressing, eating organic, and drinking lots of juice had been my health plan for years. When I first saw the an anti-GMO page share the meme about counting chemicals instead of counting calories, I thought they might be onto something. So I did what they taught me, do the opposite.

I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app for my phone and started counting calories. I logged everything, setting myself a maximum of 1500 calories on weekdays and 2000 on weekends. I learned that the more I did cardio, the more calories I could earn back. I would get up early and spend an hour on the exercise bike, or throw the kids in the stroller and go for a long walk.

A lot of people criticize calorie counting because they say that not all calories are the same. Yes and no. What I found was that if I wanted to remain full, I had to find filling food that didn’t have many calories in it. Grilled chicken with buffalo sauce, ground turkey tacos, and grilled vegetables piled high. Plain baked potatoes became a regular part of my diet. A banana with breakfast and lunch always helped to curb my appetite.

I learned why the Atkins diet worked for some people. I had to cut pasta out of my life. Wheat isn’t killing people, gluten isn’t killing people, it’s just the massive portion sizes of pasta and the associated calories. I had bread when making a sandwich, and that was it. No more dinner rolls for me. I gave up beer and margaritas in favor of wine and Diet Coke with rum.

I lost close to 100 pounds, with my waist size dropping from 42 to a 34. This was done over more than a year, rather than the quickie weight loss plans that never last. I never even had to feel guilty about eating the occasional pizza.

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Many cases of cancer, the second leading cause of death, are also tied to body fatness and physical inactivity according to the American Cancer Society.

I firmly believe that my life expectancy has been extended.

When GMO labeling failed in Colorado and Oregon back in 2014 the Washington Post offered this explanation for why the claim that 90% of voters want labeling didn’t hold up, “when people tell pollsters they favor GMO labeling, they don’t really know what they’re saying. Because overall public knowledge about GMOs is very low…..”.

When the anti-GMO movement forced the issue on these states, people began to learn about GMOs. All of a sudden the public was gaining the knowledge they needed to make an informed decision. In this case, that labeling was not needed when “organic” and “non-GMO” labels already exist. Monsanto and the rest, who had never seen the need to speak to people who weren’t farmers before, found themselves doing public outreach.

My own journey was similar. Had these anti-GMO pages and groups not existed, I probably would have kept falling for the misleading “health halo” labels in stores like “organic” or “100% juice”. I began to truly take charge of my own health.

Unfortunately there is too much money to be made for people like Food Babe who offer “lose weight quick schemes” and unrealistic lifestyles. “Minimize calories, take walks, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables” just doesn’t sell that many books.

Insane Twitter rant calls into question whether NGOs should be more transparent

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Food and Water Watch’s (F&WW) food “researcher” Tim Schwab appears to have been assigned the task of distracting the public about the science of genetically modified crops. Rather than concerning himself with evidence of harm or safety, he has been leading F&WW’s charge t0 cast doubt on any proponents of biotechnology with the shill gambit.

Recently featured in Stephanie Strom’s New York Times piece, National Biotechnology Panel Faces New Conflict of Interest Questions, Schwab claims to be concerned that some committee members stand to benefit “directly or indirectly” from their involvement.

This preemptive attack is not a first for Food and Water Watch. They appear to be quite fond of criticizing reports without even reading them. When the National Academy of Science released a report in May on biotech crops NPR reported their opinion was made before the report came out:

“The makeup of the panel is pretty clear. People are coming in with a perspective that is pro-genetically engineered crop,” says Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food & Water Watch.

The chair of the committee at the time, Fred Gould, has actually been quite critical of GMOs in the past. Even trying to restrict the planting of crops. “I have not been a darling of the industry. As a matter of fact, they denied me seeds and plants to do my experiments.”

This assumption that everyone and everything that even has the appearance of being even moderately in favor of the use of biotechnology as being paid to do so is nothing more than distraction. If they can distract the public away from the scientists and farmers in favor of the technology, they can cast political doubt.

So it should not come as a surprise to see Schwab’s recent Twitter behavior following this same pattern.

The fact that Schwab is being incredibly hypocritical, being that he is literally paid to be anti-GMO, appears to escape him.

The executive director of Food and Water Watch, Wenonah Hunter, owns an organic farm in Virginia selling over priced produce via a delivery service for urbanites. Her six-figure salary at F&WW allows her to get paid for demonizing GMOs and promote fear mongering to encourage more customers for her own for profit business.

But of course NGOs seem to just get a free pass in the press when it comes to COI and issues of bias. It doesn’t matter that their funding relies on continuing to create controversy year after year. Transparency also appears to be irrelevant.

A large percentage of funding for F&WW appears to come from donor-advised funds. These funds allow donors to make large contributions, receive immediate tax deductions, and instruct the fund where that contribution should go. This allows F&WW to accept such funding, without having to be transparent about where it comes from. Their millions could have originated from supplement and “natural cures” salesmen like Dr. Joseph Mercola or organic industry executives like Gary Hirschberg, and we would never know.

When confronted by these ideas, Schwab already has his answer. Because NGOs are portrayed as the “little guy” it doesn’t matter.

So via the New York Times he is able to portray a couple of scientists with small start-ups as having a conflict of interest, but NGOs with larger budgets should be free of scrutiny because “Monsanto”.

FW&W appears to make the assumption that “the other side” is playing dirty, and that because some corporations have more funding it means it is only moral for them to do the same. For thousands of years tribes and empires have completely wiped out every man, woman, and child of their enemy for fear of “what they might do”. But, regardless of who you supported, the recent US election shows how little funding matters. The US presidency went to a candidate that spent half of what his opponent spent.

In some ways F&WW is more invested in fighting GMOs, than Monsanto is in supporting them. Monsanto has none in the pipeline, and more than half their research goes into conventional breeding. They seem to be doing just fine in Europe with little GM crop sales, and would survive an outright banning in the US.

F&WW, on the other hand, has taken millions of dollars from people with the promise of continuing the fight against GMOs. If they back down and acknowledge the consensus that the risk is no more than traditional breeding, they lose that funding.

Like a country throwing more troops into a losing war so those already lost were not “sacrificed in vain”, Food and Water Watch must amp up their fear mongering so their money was not spent in vain.

GMO cotton benefits Indian farmers, while organic cotton encourages child labor

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/child-labor-fair-trade-cotton-program-supplying-victoria-secret-u-s-investigation-article-1.1005879

Far from the critical eye of their science editors, an article appeared recently in the Washington Post business section that spread misinformation about organic and GMOs. In “The dirty secret about your clothes” author Esha Chhabra spins a tale that serves to raise fear and doubt in something as simple as a cheap cotton tee-shirt.

The majority of the article is about the dyeing process in factories. It even begins with an anecdote from someone who claims to have suffered from an unnamed disease causing his skin to peel from just such a factory. Factories in India are a concern for the environment especially, and factory workers have a long history of health concerns globally. Chhabra mentions the Noyyal River and how it has become severely polluted. Unfortunately she leaves out the major cause which is a lack of enforcement of regulation, which is allowing these factories to do the polluting in the first place. According to The Hindu:

“…the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board unearthed over 300 units involved in illegal operations and discharging of untreated effluents into the waterbodies and open grounds, polluting the groundwater table in Tirupur and its immediate suburbs.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pollution-of-noyyal-continues-unabated/article5674550.ece

A problem that won’t be solved by just creating more factories with different methods, and certainly has nothing to do with the farming methods of the cotton which she goes into next.

Chhabra claims that Indian farmers are suffering from GMOs, specifically genetically engineered (GE) cotton. She states that GMOs drove cotton seed saving off of the market and that the GMOs were supposed to be weed resistant.

Currently the only GE cotton available in India is insect resistant, herbicide tolerant GE cotton (assuming that is what she meant by “weed resistant”) has yet to be approved there. Research has shown that from 2002 to 2008 GE cotton in India has “caused a 24% increase in cotton yield per acre through reduced pest damage and a 50% gain in cotton profit among smallholders” leading to a significant increase in the living standards of these farmers and a significant reduction in their exposure to insecticides.

As for seed saving, her claim could not be further from the truth. The introduction of Indian cotton varieties with foreign traits dates back hundreds of years. The East Indian Trading Company began importing American cotton seed in the 1840s, more than 150 years before the first GE cotton varieties came to market. According to India’s Central Institute for Cotton Research:

“There are four cultivated species of cotton viz. Gossypium arboreum, G.herbaceum, G.hirsutum and G.barbadense. The first two species are diploid (2n=26) and are native to old world… The last two species are tetraploid (2n=52) and are also referred to as New World Cottons… G.hirsutum is the predominant species which alone contributes about 90% to the global production… Perhaps, India is the only country in the world where all the four cultivated species are grown on commercial scale.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossypium_arboreum

Only the G.hirsutum variety has had the gene for insect resistance added to it via genetic engineering.

Andrew Porterfield, writing for the Genetic Literacy Project, explains why it is that only activists (rather than farmers) complain about not saving seed. It is really more about an anti-corporation agenda rather than worrying about the farmers:

“The first generation from F1 (aka, the second generation) will have half of the traits you want. Keep breeding like this, and you stand greater chances of losing the traits you want, and growing traits you don’t.

Using saved seeds are less reliable. Many times the traits you must value are just lost, or the risk of less than high quality crops is high. Farmers are hard nosed business people; they can’t afford to risk weak harvests; they are willing to pay a premium for seeds that grow true.”

Chhabra’s misinformation may have come from the only source in the article she mentions in regards to GMOs, Vandana Shiva. “Vandana Shiva (born 1952) is an anti-globalization, anti-corporate, deep ecology and radical eco-feminist activist whose campaigns focus primarily on food and agriculture socio-economic issues and an opposition to GMOs, free trade and intellectual property rights. “ Shiva told Chhabra that GMOs have forced farmers into a cycle of debt and that GMOs do not produce fertile seeds of their own. Such GMOs are actually a myth and the overall rate of Indian farmer suicides (often due to debt) is actually at about the same level it was well before the introduction of GMOs.

Shiva should be more than aware of these facts because prior to the introduction of GMOs into India, she made many of the same arguments about “non-GMO” hybrids. A 1998 interview with Shiva finds her using those exact same arguments in regards to seeds she seems to want Indian farmers to go back to now.

Writing for Fashion Hedge, Theyarina explains why “organic” does not tell the consumer anything positive or negative about a cotton tee-shirt:

“Summarizing, the use of pesticides is allowed, natural and synthetic (in moderate quantities). However, as a reminder, just because something is organic in nature, it doesn’t mean that is harmless…. It has also been found that some natural pesticides can be even more dangerous that synthetic ones…. there is nothing about it that helps saving water, as that is not one of the factors to be considered organic on any of the standards I have looked into. Organic cotton is just as bad as regular cotton in this aspect…”

Let us also not forget what happened when a Bloomberg journalist looked into labor practices on organic cotton farms “where Victoria’s Secret usually buys up the entire fair trade and organic-certified cotton crop to make the lingerie it sells in the West. There, the magazine found children of 12 and 13, laboring in the fields on pain of being whipped with switches by their bosses the cotton farmers”.

This is what happens when one does not use modern technology to farm, you are left with the age old practice of child labor.

Yes, chemicals being used in factories in India are probably causing a problem for the environment and their workers. But to link those concerns in with GMOs and an agricultural system that is showing many signs of helping India is just dishonest. The Washington Post’s science editors have done a great job over the years, perhaps the business editors should have run this by them.

Why aren’t we allowed to criticize Trump for being anti-science?

After the election many conservatives took issue with our anti-Trump memes.

Since starting the Facebook page We Love GMOs and Vaccines back in early 2014 we have seen very steady growth. Only twice have we seen our page likes go down. The first is when we made a post in support of Planned Parenthood, and the second is after the election of Donald Trump.

In the case of Planned Parenthood I was not surprised. While I am personally pro-choice, I understand where the other side is coming from. They believe human life starts at conception. To them it isn’t about choice, but about human life. There just isn’t really any point in arguing over certain religion convictions. In their eyes I made a post in support of murderers.

In the case of Trump I was flummoxed. I run a page called We Love GMOs and Vaccines and we just elected a man as president that thinks vaccines cause autism and told Iowa voters during the primary that they had too much “Monsanto on the brain”.

I actually got rather accustomed to being accused of having a conservative slant. I don’t think corporations are inherently evil and making fun of Bernie Sanders became quite a fun hobby while he still had a shot at winning. For a while I even left Trump alone, thinking he didn’t have a chance.

What really amazed me was the attitude from the most vocal critics of the Sanders and Trump memes. Fans of Sanders that already like the page would typically say, “I agree with him on other issues, but not with GMOs.” Fans of Trump, on the other hand, got really nasty and left en masse.

It was this general attitude that caused me to become a Democrat. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, up until a few months ago I was a registered Republican.

I was raised by a father that was really into politics, and would involve me in a lot of it. He was a campaign manager for several Maryland Republicans running for state offices. One such man was Bob Kittleman. A farmer (I can still feel the electric fence I couldn’t quite get my legs over), he was what I thought Republicans were.

Active in the civil rights movement, Kittleman became the president of the Howard County branch of the NAACP. A white Republican farmer in the civil rights era being in the NAACP? I grew up with stories about rocks and bricks being thrown through his windows.

His son, Alan Kittleman, would step into his father’s political shoes. When a bill to legalize gay marriage in Maryland was being voted on the first time he stepped down as Republican minority leader as the only Republican to vote for it.

Of course, I do live in a blue state. The Kittlemans wouldn’t be the first Republicans in a blue state to be socially moderate. In fact what actually killed the gay marriage bill the first time around were churches in heavy Democrat districts organizing their congregations to contact their representatives.

Can you see why someone living in Maryland might not be sure whether the sky is up or down?

I’ll still continue to vote Republican when a candidate’s platform is a little closer to what I am looking for. I was saddened to see my state vote for fear-mongering Chris Van Hollen over optimistic Kathy Szeliega for Senate. I understand that many people voted for Trump because his own platform appealed to them, especially in regards to foreign policy and economic policy.

But We Love GMOs and Vaccines has always been about two things, sharing information about biotechnology and making fun of those who demonize it. If you don’t think we are going to go after a president that hangs out with Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield….. I just don’t know what to tell you.

For those conservatives who commented in our defense, telling others not to live in an echo chamber, I thank you. Conservatives often criticize liberals for being anti-vaxxers and anti-GMO. Maybe a page seen attacking Trump can reach some of those liberals and break down their cognitive biases a bit. Because even though scientists themselves tend to be liberal, the Democrat politicians seem to think most of their constituents hate GMOs.

These issues need to transcend politics.

And if you are a liberal or a conservative, stop by southern DE and buy my Trump loving father a drink.

Trump is a vile and disgusting human being, but can he help GMOs?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ElectoralCollege2016.svg

It is no secret to fans of We Love GMOs and Vaccines that I am not a fan of Trump. It goes beyond his lack of respect for the scientific method. It sickens me to my core that my children and students are going to grow up in a country run by someone who openly spreads fear about “the other kind”. I just finished teaching a unit on global citizenship, and now we have a president who threatens all the gains we have made in that realm.

But I agree with President Obama when he spoke of being on the same team. I want the United States to succeed under Trump, because otherwise would be a disaster for everyone I care about.

Like it or not, our best hope now is to work with Trump. Perhaps we can use some of his platform to our own advantage. But to do that we need to speak his language.

Donald Trump’s presidency has the potential of being the greatest threat the organic industry has faced since the invention of the GMO. Trump is an isolationist and the organic industry relies heavily on imports from the very countries Trump thinks stole our jobs.

According to the Organic Trade Association, NAFTA “has a powerful positive effect on organic exports (to Canada and Mexico)” and “has a strong positive impact on U.S. organic imports”. This might be the reason Gary Hirshberg, of Stonyfield Organic, raised $600,000 for the Clinton campaign. He knows what might be coming.

I am a strong supporter of free trade, but I also admit that some people will feel the hurt from it as jobs move and get created. Farmers themselves are going to vary on its benefits depending on what they grow. The sugar industry does everything it can to prevent cheaper sugar coming in from overseas, while China is spending more than $24 billion a year on US crops. But there is no doubt that ending trade agreements will have a detrimental impact on Whole Foods shoppers.

Trump, appealing to the blue collar worker, worked hard to shed any image of him being an elitist. Perhaps it is time to cut funding to the organic branch of the USDA and start putting tariffs on those organic bananas destined for homes of those that can afford to pay more for their food anyways.

Biotechnology stocks soared this week on the news of a Trump victory. One of the factors leading to GMOs getting such an early start in the United States was development under the Reagan and H. W. Bush years of deregulation. Crops developed with biotechnology do not pose any risk that don’t also apply to “conventionally” bred crops, so perhaps the time has come to deregulate them.

Deregulation would have a huge benefit to farmers, consumers, and small businesses. Farmers pay extra for the seeds so the companies that developed them can recoup their costs. Small businesses could finally afford to bring new GMOs to market with consumer friendly traits. Frankly, a lot of the anti-GMO rhetoric about patents and lawsuits would fall on deaf ears if companies didn’t have to make money back on regulatory costs.

I would trade all of the possible benefits Trump can off as president. There is going to be a net loss to the world over the next four years. But he is going to be my president, and it is the job of the president to serve the people of the United States. Let’s do our best to reach out to a Republican led government and make them work for us.

Liberals out number conservatives, they need our votes in the local elections in two years.

The New York Times was wrong about GMOs, but so were the rebuttals.

Writing for The New York Times, journalist Danny Hakim continued the trend of raising doubts about the use of genetically modified crops by farmers. His argument relied on herbicide tolerant crops, and how the United States may not have seen quite the yield increase and pesticide decrease promised by the industry selling those seeds.

A lot has been written on the weaknesses of the piece:

 — Dr. Andrew Kniss, weed science professor at the University of Wyoming, explained how Hakim’s comparison with Europe was based on flawed logic.

 — Dr. Kevin Folta, molecular biologist at the University of Florida, asks why farmers would be using these seeds if they were not profitable.

 — Agricultural economist Dr. Jayson Lusk points out pesticides with lower toxicity are being used with these seeds and that they allow farmers to practice no-till farming.

— Professor C.S. Prakash of Tuskegee University reminds us that a meta-analysis showed that GMOs have reduced pesticide use and increased yields globally.

 — Dr. Steven Novella, of Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, jumped in to remind us that genetic engineering is a tool, and not something that can be judged based on just the herbicide tolerant trait.

On Twitter, Hakim attempted to address some of the points in all of these different forums. He is correct that none of the rebuttals addressed his concern over industry claims. He even admits that GMOs can be useful and that his article was intended to specifically address herbicide tolerant GMOs, along with the industry claims about them.

That’s the problem. His article was titled “Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops”, not “Doubts About the Promised Bounty Herbicide Tolerant Crops”. His article might exclude disease resistant and non-browning traits, but his title certainly doesn’t.

Genetic engineering is not the only method used to create herbicide tolerant crops. All corn and sorghum is tolerant to the herbicide atrazine, even organic (though it wouldn’t be allowed to be used). Rice, sunflower, wheat, lentils, canola, and corn is produced for BASF to be tolerant to their imazamox based herbicide.

https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/04/22/glp-infographic-how-crops-are-modified-are-gmos-more-dangerous/

By the definition used by the Non-GMO Project, these crops are not GMOs because they were created through the “traditional” methods of mutagenesis and artificial selection. Even though they have all of the same concerns, like weed resistance, that their GMO counter-parts do, they completely escape scrutiny.

When Chipotle began sourcing sunflowers to replace the GM crops used in their cooking oil, they claimed it was because of concerns over glyphosate toxicity and “super weeds”. Unfortunately the sunflowers they switched to use a more toxic herbicide and potentially contribute even more to the development of “super weeds”. It certainly can’t help that the sunflowers were first developed because a farmer had discovered them as “super weeds” themselves.

According to Bloomberg:

BASF enlists the help of 40 seed companies, including DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. in the U.S. and Switzerland’s Syngenta AG to sell Clearfield crops in markets that reject GMOs.

Since BASF makes the same claims about pesticides and yield for their non-GMO herbicide tolerant crops that Monsanto has made about GMO crops, Hakim and the New York Times should have included them in their investigation.

Every major anti-GMO organization from Greenpeace to GMO Free USA echo Hakim’s herbicide concerns. This is an argument based much more on ideology than one based on science.

These groups have worked hard to keep GMOs regulated based on the process of genetic engineering, yet they use this single trait as an argument against the technology. If herbicide tolerant crops are truly what concerns people, then perhaps we should end process based regulation and use a product based one.

Seeds should be judged not on the method of their breeding, but by the quality of their trait.

GMOs are now part of the International Jewish Conspiracy

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The, now dead, satirical web page https://web.archive.org/web/20041211212408/http://www.internationaljewishconspiracy.com/

The anti-GMO movement was recently endorsed by David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke is a Holocaust denier who served one-term as a Louisiana State Representative. He has also unsuccessfully run several times for Congress, governor, and even president.

Ignoring her “troubling ties” to the organic industry, Duke seems concerned about Hillary Clinton’s ties to the biotechnology industry. But in his tweet he takes this conspiracy theory a step further by connecting Monsanto to his hatred of Judaism, as indicated by the parentheses around Monsanto.

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Lindsey Ellefson from MEDIAITE explains:

Neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and white nationalists put the triple parentheses around the name of a Jewish writer or influencer to quickly and quietly identify them to other Neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and white nationalists. Sometimes, a blog that employs a large number of Jews may also get the (((treatment))).

In other words, Duke is insinuating that Monsanto is controlled by “The Jews”. An opinion he appears to not be alone in sharing, as a quick twitter search for the words “Monsanto” and “zionist” confirms.

Like most conspiracy theories, this one appears to be based on a couple of facts that quickly got twisted. A Jewish family with the name Monsanto fled to Holland from Spain to escape the inquisition, with at least one branch later finding their way to the Americas. They have a lot of descendents, and most appear to have converted to Catholicism. The founder of Monsanto, John Queeny Francis (a Catholic himself) named the company after his wife’s family. According to census and immigration records, this branch of the Monsanto family, however, did not arrive in the Americas from Europe until the late 1800s.

Many sources seem to indicate (including Wikipedia) that Francis named the company Monsanto to secure financing from a Monsanto sugar baron in the Caribbean, but there does not seem to be any historical record of a connection between these two branches of the name.

John Francis Queeny and Olga Monsanto were married at the Catholic  St. Paul’s Church in Hoboken, NJ (where Olga lived at the time).  According to New Jersey Wills and Probate Records (1792-1991), Olga’s parents were Mauricio (with Moreis and Morris being alternate spellings) and Emma Monsanto. American census records and German passenger lists indicate that Mauricio (a civil engineer) was born in Germany with Emma (hotel house keeper) being born in Holland. They would take their daughter to St. Thomas, before later settling in New Jersey.

The Monsanto name, being the paternal name, is really irrelevant here. In Jewish law the religion of the mother is what determines whether or not someone is Jewish. Olga Monsanto’s maternal grandmother was Caroline Magdalene Beckmann of Hannover, Germany. She was Lutheran.

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The idea that David Duke would buy into anti-GMO conspiracies should not surprise anyone. Crank magnetism is a real thing. Psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky published a study for Plos One showing that belief in conspiracy theories makes one much more likely to believe in multiple conspiracies. For example, people who think AIDs was created by the US government are far more likely to also believe that the connection between lung cancer and smoking is built on junk science.

The human brain evolved to find patterns, it helped early man survive. The problem occurs in the fact that the brain will perceive patterns when none are really there. Writing for Psychology Today Mark Van Vugt describes why so many people accept that there are massive conspiracies against them.

Another evolved function of the mind is to respond swiftly to threats. The biggest threat facing humans throughout history has been other people, particularly when they teamed up against you. If you consider societies that still live as in ancestral times, such as the Yanomamo in the Amazon region or the Kung San in Botswana then the most common form of violence involves a conspiracy directed against a particular individual who has been accused of malice, adultery, or witchcraft.

So whether it is one of the smallest religions on the planet somehow managing to control the world, or multi national corporations trying to depopulate the planet, these conspiracy theories are part of a primal survival instinct gone amok.