What do the Creationist & Anti-GMO Platform Have in Common?

Creationists and the Anti-GMO crowd (hereafter referred to as anti’s) crowd share a foundational base; one amusing to explore, no less. Creationism, or Intelligent Design (ID) as it is known in some circles where they pretend to themselves it is a scientific theory, has been notorious at setting up evolutionary straw men that they can then easily knock them down to the delight of other believers. (A straw man argument is where you intentionally misrepresent an argument so that you can take down the ‘straw man’ argument without taking on the actual argument to the benefit of your ego and ignorance of your audience.)

creationism

Exhibit A: The crocoduck

Now, some unfamiliar with the debate may think I’m showing a picture that is a caricature of the ID movements beliefs; I’m not, this comes from within their ranks. This is how they think evolution works! Now, I’m not going to bother debunking their childish beliefs, but I just wanted you to know about it for comparison’s sake. Because, the very same images are showing up in the anti crowd, and it is in this that they share in common with our creationist believing brethren.

In all aspects of the debate on the health, benefits, and detriments of genetically modified food, they’ve exhibit the same tactics, manners, fallacies, and in the process of trying (emphasis on trying) to fortify their position use discredited studies, and almost always refuted or outdated to promulgate their belief that GMOs are bad, bad, and badder than organic produce. They resort to catchy one-liners, misleading metaphors, and outright false perceptions (similar to the crocoduck) to caricature and influence those who come across their opinionations. (It goes without saying that I’m only referring to the fundamentalists of either camp, not the rank-and-file and normal people who are calm and measured in their opposition, although even they have no evidence as such in opposition; another thing they share with believers of ancient Middle Eastern fairy tales.)

In this way, the two camps share common philosophical foundations, which are:

(1) the belief that they know more than the experts

(2) that intuitions trump evidence

(3) that reality should conform to our wishes and desires instead of the other way around.

gm tomato

Exhibit B: tomfish

Both camps are big fans of vivid, negative metaphors and imagery that tickle the humanoid amygdala, thus allowing the biased brain to fill in the blanks — almost always badly. Such examples include references to contamination of organic crops by GM crops, instead of the proper term: cross-pollination. Another is the name-calling of conventional farmers as chemical-farmers, as if natural chemicals are different at the molecular (they are not — anything you can see, touch, feel, and taste is a chemical made up of the same basic building blocks as everything else). Yet another is the name-calling of sterile seeds ‘terminator seeds,‘ while on the other hand, condemning and making issues of contamination (cross-pollination). This ignores the fact that sterile seeds are a perfect way of preventing said cross-pollination, and yet, antis’ so heavily criticized the prospect, and upon having won that victory, they then had the ammunition, hysteria, and irony to boot, to complain of potential contamination of organic farms by GM farms, which would not have occurred had Monsanto developed their sterile seeds. With that victory won, they went on to that old tripe that Monsanto doesn’t allow farmers to re-use their seeds! (A practice that preceded Monsanto’s entry into the seed business.) The antis’, or whichever few orchestrated these campaigns, can only be stupid or evil. Either way, a long time ago, this issue became politics instead of fighting for the environment. It became a worldview predicated not on information or evidence, but on defending a viewpoint that long ago ceased to pollinate with reality.

elephin

Exhibit C: Elephin

There is only one way to characterize images such as these represented here: propaganda. It is wholly based upon myth and false representation; such as a tomato having fish genes, or any other. As written on MemeScreen: “there is no such thing as a “flounder gene,” because genes are not species-specific.” This is a basic biological fact. If it were not true, and moving a ‘species-specific’ gene from one creature to a creature of another genus was forbidden by a law of nature, then humans would not exist. And, if, having multiple species-specific genes inside your body really were as alien as that tomfish above, then you’d have half a banana tree sprouting out of your body (seeing that humans share between 50-55% of their DNA with banana trees); or 60% chicken, or 98% hairy chimpanzee (without a theory of mind to boot). It doesn’t matter where a gene comes from, only what proteins it codes for, and how it plays with the genes in its new genome home; something which scientists understand extremely well despite activist accusations to the contrary (rDNA was discovered in the 70’s, it’s coming up on 50 years of experimentation; it wasn’t invented yesterday).

It goes without saying that of both camps; creationists have zero understanding of evolution, and antis, a limited understanding of evolution. It is no longer a battle between the right and the left. It is now anti-science and science, and both the right and left are on the wrong side of that divide.

ban-fish

Exhibit D: Banfin

There are, of course, other falsehoods. I’d like to go through a few:


pesticide application

Here the assumption is that because pesticides are poisonous (true), that the minuscule (parts per billion) amounts of pesticide left on the produce by the time it hits your plate is also poisonous and, therefore deleterious to your health. I don’t see how anyone can hold such a belief—and that’s all it is, a belief—without also holding a belief in homeopathy. But, if homeopathy were true, we’d have bigger problems than pesticides on our food; science writer Kyle Hill hits the nail on the head in his piece The Miracle of Molecular Medicine in which he takes the premise of homeopathy to the extreme:

The dark side of homeopathic potency is that any dangerous chemical, any particle of poison, is grim death. Ultra-filtered gas masks would become part of the national uniform, because inhaling even a few atoms of lead would lead to a neurotoxic demise in a world where homeopathic principles are true. The old medical adage that pretty much everything is carcinogenic at some level would dominate new information campaigns about safe breathing habits. Would-be poisoners would become the most devious of murderers when a lethal dose of arsenic is measured in yottagrams.

Drunkards would have the time of their lives in a world where homeopathy worked. Ethanol diluted in water in any amount makes the drink a spirit. The lower the alcoholic content the better [FJ – LOL]. You would need a microscope to find a drunkard’s flask.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Luckily, homeopathy doesn’t work. Not only doesn’t it work, it can’t work. For if it did would require overturning everything we know about physics, chemistry, and biology and starting from scratch. You know, those pesky laws with billions of pieces of evidence in their favour that have taken us centuries to accumulate constantly contending against the darkness of ignorance. Notwithstanding those minor inconveniences, it is also inconsistent with, what Einstein said was likely to be the only law that would never be overturned by future discoveries, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and is in yet further in opposition to probability theory and the statistical nature of information decay.

The concept of dose is the only thing that matters with everything; from pesticides, to oxygen, to water. Both of the just mentioned three chemicals can be, in the right amount, dangerous. Inhale too much oxygen and you’ll die of oxygen toxicity, drink too much water and you’ll die of water intoxication, and ingest too much pesticide, and you’ll die of poisoning. The former two don’t frighten us, why should the third? The dose makes the poison. The pesticide applicator in the picture above is handling large doses of concentrated pesticides, hence, the protective gear, but in the transference of the pesticides to the produce we eat, where only parts per billion remain, is not relevant to our biology.

And lastly, the last note this meme evokes is that what is going on inside the picture equates only with conventional agriculture. False, again. Worldwide, poisoning from organic pesticides are proportional to conventional pesticides, and of worldwide pesticide poisonings, only 1% occur in the developed world where we have safety regulations (such as what he’s wearing), the majority occur in developing countries where no information, education, or safety regulations exist for their proper application. Would activists really be impressed by poor Indonesian farmers spraying organic — which are just as poisonous — pesticides in shorts and flip-flops? The fact that their natural has no bearing on their toxicity, for better or worse. The person in the above photo is just as likely to be a pesticide applicator on an organic farm as a conventional or GM farm. But you can’t know that from the way it is presented, it’s meant to misinform you, in a fear-based way no less. You’re either with them (organic advocates), or against them, and how ironic that they have borrowed that euphemism from their favourite villain, George. W—at least now the war on GMOs starts to make a little more sense: a preemptive strike based on faulty intelligence.


wont recognize an ingredient

Here’s another meme that I plucked some months ago from what appears, from a cursory glance, to be a website full of pseudoscience. Apparently, your body has magical detection instruments that can confirm, deny, accept, or reject certain ingredients; it can even spell basic ingredients and can’t spell difficult ingredients! Who knew?!

Of course, it’s hogwash. Everything you eat, regardless of its origin, is broken down into the same basic substances: amino acids (from proteins), monosaccharides (from carbohydrates), vitamins, minerals, water, and everything else is waste that passes right through.

All foods consist of these same basic bits, just in different proportions” ~ Brian Dunning (Science writer)

What your body doesn’t recognize are apples, tomatoes, or carrots; it recognizes the building blocks that make them up, which it quickly breaks them into down into useful chemicals to supply, feed, and/or repair the disparately arranged parts of your organism.

Simpleton statements about biology, physiology, and chemical pathology that a kindergartener could understand are quite likely to be false. Be wary of them. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: when it comes to agriculture, GMOs, or any other such complicated subjects; if it fits on a Facebook photo, it’s probably wrong.


roundupHere is another. No natural website is respected without tea-bagging the dreaded glyphosate, which, apparently, has been linked to everything and it’s dog in pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. Depending on which sites you visit, you’ll hear nothing but scare stories about this fairly benign pesticide that will make you want to leave the planet Earth.

Now, of course, glyphosate is a pesticide; being a pesticide, it’s a poison when taken in large enough quantity, but so is everything else when taken in large enough quantities! I digress, you should still avoid contact with it in condensed form, as with all pesticides. But, when it comes to the parts per billion you’ll find on your food, give it a wash and you’ll be fine. The hysteria surrounding residual pesticides on food is entirely unwarranted. They bring us far more benefits than risk. As Dr. Schwarz said: “The presence of a chemical is not the same as presence of risk.” He goes on to say the following:

The problem may not be the “potentially” toxic chemicals that are in products we buy and use every day as much as the zeal with which some individuals and activist groups attempt to convert an association into causation to fit an ideological agenda.  If we were to remove all “potentially” toxic products from the shelves of the stores we shop at—there would be nothing left for us to buy.

Notwithstanding that the quote in the picture to the left comes from a discredited, refuted, and entirely bizarre study that had no data or facts to speak of and looked at no new issues; all it did was invent new science-y terms, conjectured fear and links out of apparent thin air, and referenced multiple discredited studies multiple times (such as Seralini’s discredited rat study on GM corn, and Wakefield’s discredit vaccine-autism link), it’s still paraded around as if it were the Bible. It predicates itself on the basis that as several diseases have increased in the last several decades, and so has glyphosate, therefore they are linked; otherwise known as the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy(after this, therefore because of this). But many other things have also risen in that same time frame, just like organic food sales; by that logic, organic food sales are also responsible. (See below graph. Look at that P-Value, there’s no way its a coincidence!)

organic-autism

As Paul Raeburn wrote on a MIT science journalism website: “When claims are made that a particular substance can cause so many unrelated diseases, we might begin to suspect that it doesn’t cause any of them.” I agree. The study from which this quote is taken from linked glyphosate to, well, everything from Autism Spectral Disorder to irritable bowl syndrome to Alzheimer’s. That simple, eh? Is it any wonder that the pseudo-scientific wanderings of ill-trained ideologues always have such simple solutions and completely lack the nuance of the real world. I wonder how every single scientific institution and food regulatory agency on the planet missed it. What are the odds of that? Spectacularly low, if I had to proffer a guess.

An extensive study by Stephen O. Duke and Stephen B. Powles leads credence to the safety of glyphosate over the more toxic pesticides it replaces (such as Atrazine, which is 200 times more toxic). Their section on toxicology should calm the nerves of anyone on the fence with an open mind: “Glyphosate is not a carcinogen or a reproductive toxin, nor does it have any sub-acute chronic toxicity. In a lengthy review, Williams et al. conclude that, when used according to instructions, there should be no human health safety issues with glyphosate.” Key point: when used according to instruction. The same goes for something as benign as water, which when used in accordance with your bodies’ (unwritten) safety instructions, nourishes you. When you exceed that limit, your brain starts to malfunction, and you suffer the risk (dilutional hyponatremia).

James Cooper, writing for The Examiner wrote this in debunking the faux documentary Genetic Roulette: “It is one of the least toxic pesticides to animals, being less toxic than salt or aspirin. It is environmentally benign since it binds tightly to the soil and does not move in soil groundwater. It also has a short environmental half-life since it breaks down by microbial degradation in the soil. It does not cause mutations.”

In other words, keep calm and carry on.


I could go on and on and on and on and on, and you get the picture, for some time with images such as these (such as images of produce with syringes imitating genetic modification, despite no genetic modification ever having taken place in this manner…ever), but it’s all rather obvious: The far right and the far left—anti-evolution creationists and anti-gmo organicos—share a lot in common; they are both wrong.

With that, I’d like to conclude with a quote from Mark Lynas’ recent speech, Time to Call Out The Anti-GMO Conspiracy Theory:

“History surely offers us, from witch trials to eugenics, numerous examples of how when public misunderstanding and superstition becomes widespread on an issue, irrational policymaking is the inevitable consequence, and great damage is done to peoples’lives as a result.”

 

37 comments

  1. Heathen…. the tomfish is real.

    Excellent post. I feel a Transhumanism angle coming soon.

    Now, did i read that update correctly yesterday: S3 is No.1 on Amazon?

    1. Hahaha. I’ve a few transhumanists post in the pipeline. Yes, it was no.1 in the science > general reference section. 🙂 2,500th in the total kindle store. I’m satisfied with that.

  2. It’s even deeper than their odd image editing by the anti-GMO team. I find myself in a lot of arguments where people tell me that the plants we know now evolved in some benign, tooth-fairy, Glynda-the-Good-Witch way–they got nice mutations that perfectly fit in with the surrounding farm where bluebirds sing or something….

    When I point out that plants have evolved cyanogens to keep from being eaten, they don’t seem to understand that at all. Or if I ask them about plant pathogen evolution–a naturally occurring state of affairs for which plants then have to try to keep up, suddenly, without permits from the USDA–this is not the same evolution they have in mind either.

    Plants have massively shaken up their genomes, and randomly hybridized, possible to fight climate change in the past too–so they could acquire new functions. They take up genes from other species to help them out.

    They have such a trivial grasp of evolution that meets their pre-conceptions, and they are over their heads. And have no idea what they are talking about. It’s entirely obvious once they start ranting about evolution.

    References:
    Plant cyanogens: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9431670
    Genome shake-ups: http://www.genomeweb.com/informatics/genome-duplication-may-have-helped-plants-survive-mass-extinction
    Acquiring genes: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/32946/title/Moss-Harbors-Foreign-Genes/

    1. “Plants have massively shaken up their genomes, and randomly hybridized”- true, yet humans have also massively shaken up their genomes and inserted foreign genomes into them or edited out entire genomes in plants. How do you objectively tell which ones “mother nature” did and which ones humans did? Tel

      when speaking about evolution I find it strange how people can know that a 3.5lb brain has the capability of intelligently designing or altering an organisms, yet then turn around and conclude that for 4.5 billion years it was all random chance, and only at present is it intelligent design.

      Now you can speak and cling to evolution all you want, but how do you do so going forward when all we are witnessing is humans intelligently designing new organisms not them naturally evolving that way? At best all you can say is evolution is a theory of the past while intelligent design is the fact of the present and accounts and explains the rise of the majority of new species going forward.

  3. Foo, I ask that you research a bit more on the nutrition side of your argument. Your paragraph: “Of course, it’s hogwash. Everything you eat, regardless of its origin, is broken down into the same basic substances: amino acids (from proteins), monosaccharides (from carbohydrates), vitamins, minerals, water, and everything else is waste that passes right through,” is incorrect. One great example is those of trans-fats vs. saturated fats. Trans-fats have the exact same chemical makeup of saturated fats, however one nourishes our body, and the other produces an auto-immune response and can cause serious health issues. They only differ in their molecular shape. You also left out lipids from your list of substances (triglycerides, diglycerides, and monoglycerides). And it’s not “monosaccharides” that the body breaks carbohydrates down into; specifically it’s glucose.

    Inflammation of the small intestine is a very real issue caused by several things, most notably sugar, and can cause “leaky gut syndrome” which allows molecules other than nutrients and phytonutrients to pass through the villi unchecked (i.e. residual pesticides and environmental toxins). This can present a catalyst to an immense number of health issues.

    1. Thanks for your comment B.

      Glucose is a form of monosaccharide, just like fructose and dextrose are, and a few others. As for trans-fat, while I don’t claim they are healthy, they are present in a natural, as well as man-made, diet. In the man-made diet, we are simply getting too much. Again, though: the dose makes the poison. This statement applies to everything. Too much trans-fat (from fried chips or anywhere else) is bad for you; too much water, same deal; too much of anything, really. As long as one eats a varied diet with meat, fruits, veggies; everything will be dandy-dory (in so far as it can be, there are other ways life can throw a spanner in the works: genetic disorders etc). That’s the message.

      Thanks for pointing out the lipid omission. A valid criticism; guess I forgot that. 🙂

  4. Compounds in large amounts may produce toxic effects. And at sufficiently low concentrations the toxic effects are not observed (i.e. the dose makes the poison). However, that does not mean effects are not occurring at very low concentrations. Biological effects happen all the way down to attomolar concentrations. To ignore effects that aren’t death and tumors… that’s asking for trouble.

  5. Perhaps the scientific world is so caught up in the minutia specifically at the mitochondrial cell level (not that it is a terrible thing as development in medicine has proved),but to support that fully,one needs to be willing to take the good with the bad (as in chemo-therapy vs. cancer) there too!. Too much…poison! Too little…we break down! Perhaps we will even be more bionic than human and we wont need food in the same way we do now!
    However, concerning our food production, I want to eat foods that are not specifically man- provoked as in the case of developing super veggies or other food systems/replacements that would feed the world perfectly shaped and colored veggies or fruits that so far are missing what counts on the inside! I want my veggies and fruits fully packed with nutrients the way they should be. I would rather imagine that the plant world be left to a more natural evolving cycle as “mem” noted: plant pathogen evolution–a naturally occurring state of affairs for which plants then have to try to keep up, suddenly, without permits from the USDA.
    My evaluation so far; as I do believe in God and that plant life was here far longer evolving on this earth than man…… we need to quit trying to always alter something and let nature take its course.
    As a small production gardener, I can still believe that growing my food be left to God and a natural course of promiscuous pollination.

    1. I don’t quite you followed Mem’s comment. Plants don’t want to be eaten, and they have evolved as such to minimize that risk (in so much as they can want). Our agriculture stopped being natural 10,000 years ago when we selected for the plants with qualities most virtuous to our ends. If the human race were to disappear, all of our crops would disappear with us. There is no natural evolution; organic or otherwise. As Richard Dawkins said, we left that boat behind 10,000 years ago. Biotech just gets us what we want with less hassle, quicker, and in some cases, safer.

  6. Interesting article; I’m allergic to moral panics about “frankenfoods” and the general suspicion of “genes” being something untrustworthy or dangerous.
    However, there -are- a significant number of people who are practically anti-GMO without being anti-science. Many have political/economic objections to the practices and business models of the big GMO corporations, for example, or concerns at the regulation processes that approve new approaches to industrial-scale food production.
    The implication that “as long as the science checks out it’s fine, regardless the technology and implementation” is clear in the piece, and is misguided. And that those who disagree with you (far left or far right) are wrong, does not imply that you are right. A process may be a rational choice from the viewpoint of increasing productivity, for example, while being profoundly damaging to community welfare, worker morale, the stability of political institutions or any number of other measures.

    1. Hi Richard,

      That is indeed the point of this post. That the factual basis of the debate is completely without merit. Let’s face it, almost every aspect of the debate that is trying to influence the public usurps and distorts the facts and science. That is what this post is about: those assertions are utterly without merit.

      I agree with you on political and economic objections. There are reasonable debates to be had there, but they should be had free of the factually distorting influence of the more fundamentalist camps. You must also consider that some of those objections are a practical result of the vehement response against GMOs; i.e., the over-regulation of GM crops and the uncertainty if the crop will ever make it to market ensures the domination of the big few (Monsanto, Sygenta) as only they can afford such regulatory processes, so they are linked.

      If we wish to discuss those things, instead of the science and technology, which have no inherent faults, then by all means, but you say it could be profoundly damaging. It could also be profoundly positive. In many parts of the world, many types of GM crops would reduce pesticide exposure and poisonings, increase yield, and therefore food security, along with many other benefits. Are there potential negatives? Of course, but they must be weighed against the benefits. Nothing is so black and white. The science is clear; the technology is clear; and society adapts, for better or worse. So far, in the many cases around the world, it seems to be for the better.

      As I said in the post, it refers to the fundamentalists of both sides. Not those with rational opposition, but if your rational opposition relies on science or technology, then it is still wrong. There are discussions we should be having about patents, business reform, regulatory burdens and so forth, but we’re not having those, are we? We’re lost in the cacophony of those who know no better whom have inspired this post.

    1. Yes. http://www.agwest.sk.ca/blog/2014/02/anti-science-whats-the-risk/

      and:
      Julee writes: Dr. Vrain’s claims are not supported by the vast majority of the science community worldwide, which basically means that the preponderance of evidence does not support what he believes. If his claims indeed have merit, scientists should and would be knocking on his door to repeat and further the research because this would be huge news, and big boons to careers, but scientists are not knocking on his door. Why? Because the evidence leads elsewhere. Good science follows evidence, not beliefs and opinions. There is a thread in FB that completely trashes what Vrain says. If you want to know what science really thinks of him, go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GMOSF/permalink/345803832225540/

  7. It’s preposterous to draw a line between these two movements based on the beliefs of what the author concedes are only “extremists” within each of them. Any political or religious movement, when examined closely enough, will be seen to have similar “extremists” within its ranks. You could just as easily have titled the article “What do the Gay Rights and Islamist Sharis platforms have in common?”

    I have been speaking out against GMOs for nearly twenty years now and I will tell you, that my overwhelming concern is the complete and total lack of reliable scientific information about potential effects of GMOs, on both a long term and short term basis, on physiology and ecology. I am a firm believer in the scientific process, but not so blind as to believe that science, as an institution in our society, is unaffected by the myriad economic and political influences that shape every other aspect of our lives. Opposition to GMOs is not anti-science, it is demanding scientific evaluation of what is most likely an extremely dangerous technology. We have paid the price too many times in the past for introducing chemicals and technologies into our everyday lives without ever having conducted scientific inquiries into the effects they would have on us. Now we have constantly rising cancer rates in every corner of the world and a biosphere contaminated beyond all recognition.

    1. How is it preposterous?

      Creationists disparage evolution because it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs (ideology). Anti-GMOists falsely attribute to evolution non-sequitors to align with their belief (ideology). Therefore, both are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution. Creationists deny evolution is even true. Anti-GMOists so distort evolution as to make it meaningless in its applicability to the real world. At the end of the day, both of their ideologies are based on misunderstanding evolution and given that the comparison is apt.

      As for your 2nd paragraph, there is no lack of reliability of scientific information on the subject. You, I assume, haven’t seen it or ignore it. There are over 650 studies peer-reviewed studies that show that GM food currently on the market is safe. Over 1/3 of those studies have been conducted by independent labrotories, and every regulatory agency and public scientific institution has evaluated that evidence and come to the same conclusion. Each and every one of the GM products on the market has been extensively evaluated for safety and functional equivalency. I’m sorry to say that you are mistaken in your assessment that there is “complete and total lack of reliable scientifc information.”

      Concern is one thing, demanding ever more scientific evaluation when we have enough is a never-ending process that some anti’s used to try to keep GM crops off the market forever.

      The “constantly rising cancer rates” is a canard. More and more people are getting cancer, not because we are getting sicker, or indunated with chemicals, but because life expectancy has been so greatly increased that people are living long enough to get cancer. Int he 20th century, the average age at which people get cancer has increased by 9 years. The majority of people were in their mid-50s in the early to mid 20th century when they were onset with cancer. Today, the average age is 64. But because so many more people live to be 64, more people are getting cancer. You’re confusing correlation with causation.

      1. “Creationists disparage evolution because it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs “- no I disagree with it because it does not fit what I scientifically see. I see humans today creating gmo’s, but then saying such things have never happened in the past. Using the fossil records as point of reference I see very little change from existing species of today to there ancient ancestors- look at a 1 million year old turtle or snake fossil and it looks almost identical to what todays turtle/snake look like. Some species “evolved” very little, while others species arose and went extinct- why is that? Before you say natural selection let me remind you that natural selection only reduces it offers no explanation as to why more than 1 species arose to select from in the first place. Now living in a time where gmo’s are possible and done on a daily bases I find that it closely matches what we find in the fossil records- no transitional fossil, and a sudden unexplained rise in a new or altered species. I can believe in intelligent design because humans do today, so I have a hard time believing in a disconjointed theory- evolution from 4.5 billion years ago to present, but intelligent design from present going forward.

  8. You did misrepresent the beliefs and level of sophistication of those beliefs because it makes it easy for you to deal with them if they are as irrational and unsubstantiated as you would like to think that they are. There is a significant difference between Creationism and ID. Where certain individuals are concerned the motives for accepting them may be similar.

    You are also no rationalist! To claim either camp has zero understanding then be unable to cite any credible evidence yourself is just rhetoric.

    1. I’m quite sure I didn’t, but if you continue to feel so, please point out particular statements, and explain why they are wrong. Almost every anti-GMO website makes false claism about species specific genes, non-existent allergens, unfounded claims about fear, and an unrealistic, usually implicit, expectation of evolution. it’s not quite as bad as creationists as they outright deny evolution despite the plethora of evidence in its favor. Of course, I generalize for the simplicity of the message. I don’t have time nor the inclination to ascertain to which degree each individual in Greenpeace holds to their anti-gmo beliefs. Those that I have outlined below tend to be implicit in all

      Do you seriously require evidence for evolution at this stage? All the evidence from Darwin onwards is firmly in support of the Theory of Evolution, from biogeography, morphology, palentology, geology, biochemistry, and genetics. Evolution is as true as the Earth is round. I don’t need to provide further additional proof. Those making the negative claim do, and being open-minded as to the validity of evolution is actually denialism. There is no rational way to deny the validity of evolution without evidence, and that evidence doesn’t exist.

  9. Actually you don’t even have to be particularly safe with glyphosate. It’s just one ingredient in the pesticide and literally cannot hurt you in any meaningful way. Ironically it’s the detergent used to penetrate the waxy outer coating of some weeds that you have to worry about; they can harm your stomach lining in large enough doses (of course, so will drinking dish soap).

    In several instances people have accidentally consumed large quantities of glyphosate (dozens of grams at least; several billion times above allowable limits) and were totally fine. Why? Because that protein just plain doesn’t work in our bodies, or, in fact, the bodies of all animals, plants, and most insects; it will work only in the body of any insect that has an alkaline stomach. In our bodies as soon as it hits any part of one of our cell walls it gets all messed up from the interaction and ceases to be glyphosate anymore- it decays into other molecules that don’t really do anything but hang around .

    1. There’s that too! I’m just being generous to those who are terrified of it. But yes, glyphosate has an LD50 less than that of common table salt and is unequivocally non-toxic to to mammals. You’d think that’ll be cause for good news but because it is sold by Monsanto as Roundup, it gets metastasized into those conspiracies, unfortunately. Maybe that will change next year when their patent on it expires. We’ll see.

    2. Good grief, what absolute rubbish. Glyphosate is not a protein but is a small molecule. There are numerous reports in the peer reviewed scientific literature that show it causes neural tube defects in vertebrates. The pathway causing the defects has even been identified, interference with the retinoic acid signalling pathway. I suggest you stop posting on areas you appear to have no knowledge of at all only mixing up information on glyphosate and the Bt toxins.
      Here is a paper describing the harmful effects of glyphosate:
      http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/tx1001749

  10. There is a whole other side to this argument that everyone completely overlooks and it drives me mental. And that is we are so unbelievably fortunate to even think that this constitutes a problem.

    I don’t personally believe there is any conclusive evidence that modern farming is a threat to anyone’s health. Even if it is a threat, it’s a threat on the “if you eat this every day there is a 6% increased risk of certain kinds of disease over 40 years.” At the most basic level, it’s not like pesticides have started making us drop dead at age 40. So here is my point. While people here in North America and Europe are blah-blah-blah-ing about their organic food I always think “So your big concern in the world is that the food you eat MIGHT mean you only live to 80 instead of 83. What about 20,000 people in the world who will die of starvation TODAY?

    If your big cause in this world is to put all your disposable time and income into making your little corner of the world 4% safer for yourself while literally millions of people die of starvation, then you are not a crusader for humanity. You are an arrogant, selfish, imbecile. To me the organic movement is greed masquerading as altruism. And it is disgusting.

    1. Hi Jim. Actually, ur quote was in relation to glyphosate. 🙂 but, it was in an article on genetic roulette from what I recall, but specifically on glyhoshate. If not, I apologise. I tried to use ur quote to drive home the point on glyphoshate.

  11. Problems with the anti-creation pro-GMO group:

    1. Absolutely no experience with experts. Many of us have had the need to hire experts to answer questions required by regulation or in order to advance projects. With out the advice of an expert, I know the answer is yes, no, or maybe. After paying an expert, most of the time, and after reading 100,000 plus words on the subject, the answers are narrowed down to yes, no, or maybe. Note that these answers persist regardless how many experts are consulted, though the volume of content to be consumed prior to the standard answers increases exponentially.

    2. The experts who today are telling us that GMOs offer no risks are merely the progeny of the ancestral group who saw no risk in carbon pollution, chemical industries, and atomic radiation. Note that the ancestral group of experts from which these came are closely related to the groups that used leeches, attempted alchemy, believed in humors etc. Everyone of these groups were experts of their time whom your groups would follow.

    3. Faith is fundamental to human nature. Some put it in creation and others put it in science. The scientific method demands proof. It follows that to avoid placing faith in those who conduct science would require everyone to repeat every experiment ever done. Since this is not possible, you put faith in scientists and their processes.. And you are right to do that 19 times out of 20.

    4. A stunning disregard for historical experience: A) it should be clear that people who rely on experts always think that their experts are right. B) Almost all expert advice proves to be wrong or at least incomplete when tested by later generations of experts. It should follow that the expert advice we receive today ought to be treated with a high degree of skepticism.

    The debate between creation and chance can never be compellingly answered and it is really of little importance to either religion or science. I suppose the debate serves as entertainment to some of us. I am troubled by the release of GMOs into the environment. For the past 10 to 20 years science reporting has been focused on the effects of human activity on the planet. We have been told that everything from fossil energy to cattle are destroying the Earth. How then can this history of effects not apply to GMOs? The risk is in what we do not know about the consequences.

  12. While the majority of your article makes a very good point, you may want to rethink your section on pesticides and herbicides. In fact, I would check out “Toxicology” and read some of the papers published therein. Some points you are making ignore very important, known processes: bio-accumulation; bio-magnification; acute toxicity, sublethal effects; generational effects; and acute vs. chronic exposure. This doesn’t even address break-down chemistry, which in many cases is more toxic than the original chemistry (DDT for instance breaks down into DDD and DDE, neither of which are nice chemicals). Also, remember when we were assured things like DDT and Thalidomide were safe? In terms of GMO, as long as the nutrient profile and protein profile remain unchanged there isn’t anything to be concerned about. The side practices and use of pesticides however shouldn’t be so lightly glossed over, particularly when a practice is so new. There’s an entire field of science devoted to toxicology after all.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X09003047

  13. It is not the science that I question but the conclusion scientist come up with that I question. Now you presented a nice article about the anti’s and creationist and then say we use a straw man’s argument. Well I’ll present you with something that is not a straw man’s argument; intelligent design is a proven fact- humans do it with every gmo we create! To deny intelligent design is to deny what humans have been doing for decades. Now the scientific method first step is to hypotheses, and a hypothese/thoery is ONLY as accurate as it’s starting assumptions- any disagreement there? Now in regards to the theory of evolution it is based on observations of the fossil records, however intelligent design is based on repeatable test and observation- humans can repeatedly create the same gmo’s or even different gmo’s and this is observable and testable IE scientific. We can prove intelligent design is not only possible but has been done for decades now, so how does that fit into the theory of evolution? As I mentioned before starting assumptions are important, and in regards to the theory of evolution it’s starting assumption is that this is the first time in 4.5 billion years of this earths history that this has ever occurred, yet exactly why do we assume this, or what scientific proof do we have of this? We assume that humans are the very first species to have “advance” knowledge and all other life before us was simple creatures with little knowledge, yet the only reason we assume this is because no other species alive today seems to have our level of intelligent. This does not mean that in past 4.5 billion years other species did not have this level of intelligence or greater. I’ll give an example, suppose in the future we create AI’s (which humans are working on now and coming pretty close google turing test) then suppose some biological out break happens and all humans die (science shows that it’s very possible for an entire species to go extinct). The AI’s then look around earth and find the most intelligent species are apes. Would or could the AI’s ever conclude that there was once a species with a higher intelligence than apes, or would they conclude that the highest intelligence that life ever created was the mind of an ape? Another example would be suppose that a cataclysmic event happened and knocked society back to the stone age, a few thousand years later humans rise back up to the level of technology we have today and come up with the same theory of evolution that we have today- would they ever be able to prove or conclude under the theory of evolution that many of the plants were actually intelligently designed by past humans?
    Now if I provided you with a gmo and a non gmo how could science objectively prove which was intelligently design and which one “evolved” naturally? If no objective way to tell the two apart then why do evolutionist subjectively believe it’s never occurred in the past? The fossil records have yet to reveal transitional fossils, and show that “evolution” tends to happen fast rather than slowly (whole species have arisen and gone extinct in a few 100,000 years). This closely matches exactly what one would expect to find using gmo’s- no transitional fossils and sudden rapid appearance in the fossil record. Now what would you think of a theory that omitted a known possibility? It is known that an intelligent being can alter and create new organisms (proven by gmo’s). The same physical laws that allow us to create gmo’s today existed in the past, yet the theory omits this possibility completely as ever having being possible based on an assumption that no species ever possessed this level of intelligence. While mythology and religion is not proof, it does lend at least at bit of insight. I say that because according to evolution we were all cavemen until about 12,000 years ago when suddenly there was an unexplained increase in mankind’s intelligence that also coincided with an unexplained agriculture revolution- the rise of grain (sounds a little like our gmo farming of today). Yet the first things these humans did in every single culture of the world was come up with stories stating that they were created from “gods” (IE higher intelligent beings). Up until modern history this would have seemed impossible and indeed many people dismissed this as being possible and came up with the idea of evolution to explain the rise of species, yet with todays advancements and the witnessing of this being possible is it really rational to dismiss such claims as intelligent design?

    In conclusion intelligent design is fact and happens everyday, but the theory of evolution subjectively rest on an assumption that no other species has ever done this. Please consider how vast this universe is with all it’s possible life supporting planets (or do also assume that earth is the only planet with life on it?), how many species have arisen and gone extinct in the past 4.5 billion years- now what are the chances that humans are really the first and only species that have ever had this level of knowledge- fossil records show that Neanderthals had bigger brain capacities than us, and there are cone head skulls found all over the world that also had a bigger brain capacity. Now even if you still cling to the theory of evolution of the past how do you do so going forward? At present how do you embrace this theory while also acknowledging that humans are intelligently designing new organism every day and there is no objective test to differentiate between what is created and what evolved? While many die hard evolutionist may cling to this theory it is impossible to do so going forward without the use of intelligent design, for we did not witness evolution in the past few decades but we have witnessed gmo’s in the past few decades, and these gmo’s have cross breed with wild organisms creating new hybrids (90% of all corn and sugar beat has gmo’s genes in them these days). So criticize intelligent design proponents all you want, but know that your theory holds little to no water going forward in time.

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