Science educators challenge activists

Group aims to help educators find accurate sources

High school science teachers, university professors and researchers are starting to realize that it is probably up to them to defend genetically modified crops and other modern innovations.

Science educators and experts are taking the issue seriously after years of activists being allowed to dominate the public debates that rage around food and agriculture.

“Information is changing almost daily. It’s imperative that teachers are well-informed about where they’re getting their information,” said George Valentim, head of the Science Teachers Association of Manitoba.

“Too much information may be a problem in many cases.… You can look up all these things and you’re bombarded by all these websites and people who claim to understand what this all means.”

Valentim’s group, which is a volunteer association of science teachers, spent a recent in-service day discussing science education in Manitoba schools, including meeting with Kevin Folta, a University of Florida agriculture scientist who is a leading defender of GMOs and other modern innovations that have revolutionized agriculture.

Folta said activists and opponents often knowingly misrepresent the truth about science in agriculture and food, but face little resistance from informed educators and scientists.

This is partly because the science is complex and hard to explain.

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“There’s a tremendous learning curve,” said Folta, who was brought to Manitoba by the Manitoba Canola Growers Association.

“This is a very dense literature. If you’re going to talk about anything in science, you have to go out and have a very strong background of understanding of the evidence, the literature that is underlying it.”

Anti-GMO activists don’t have that problem.

“You don’t have to have evidence and a lot of understanding of comprehensive data and explanation to make some of the claims that others are making,” he said.

“The anti side can say pretty much whatever they want.”

The evening before meeting with the science teachers, Folta spoke to dieticians and foodies at the University of Manitoba’s Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals about the challenges of combating false information about GMOs and other food and agriculture innovations.

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Valentim said his organization helps the provincial education de-partment ensure that the science curriculum is effectively delivered to students. That means helping teachers find online sources of accurate information rather than the mass of questionable sources on hot-button topics.

“It’s up to our Manitoba curriculums to find some positive websites that teachers can turn to,” he said.

Local experts can also be engaged when questions arise, he added.

“We look for useful sources like our own University of Manitoba agriculture faculty.”

Folta said few scientists like him are willing to wade into the furious disputes over GMOs and other science-in-agriculture topics, but he thinks more will now that activists have created so much public fear.

“I think what you are seeing is an awakening of scientists who are disturbed by the misrepresentation of science by anti-GMO types, by the people who go out and say their food is poison,” said Folta.

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“And it really does stir scientists in a bad way, and it’s getting us excited about going out and engaging activists about the truth, and you’ll see more and more people going out and doing it.”

  • Dee

    Great idea!

    One little problem – – – what is the truth?

    Given the billions being made by the big ag seed conglomerates – – – they really are going to tell us everything? Not likely – – – one rarely bites the hand that feeds us!!

    Good luck in actually finding the truth!!

    • Warren Lauzon

      How about the billions made by Big Organic if they manage to make GMO’s look evil?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        Your arguments are laughable. Kind of like saying David is picking on Goliath…

      • richard

        Warren it doesnt really matter what the green meanies think…….Neither does it really matter what you think….. There is a quantum shift of consciousness taking place right now where increasingly educated citizens have decided that they have heard enough nonsense from the cult of modern science. Too many lies, a lot of half truths, and a litany of food safety disasters in the last twenty years have your agribiz friends with both feet in their mouths. The organic food sector was around a long time before GMO and has lived up to its expectations…. Witness a sixty billion USD global trade that succeeds because it is self evident to consumers and liberates its producers….Sadly, in spite of billions invested, your GMO world does neither…..and there is nothing that envy and rage are going to do to change this reality…..

        • Warren Lauzon

          “Cult of science”??

          • richard

            Yes Warren the Cult that sponsored then ignored facts like BST, BSE, CJD, CWD, antibiotic resistance, watershed contamination, weed and pest resistance, neonicotinoids, species extinction……or views these as simply collatoral damage in your war against nature……Increasingly smart citizens have realized that food is sacrosanct and have chosen to maximize their health and well being by demanding nutrient dense food that is not drenched in the hubris of industrial agriculture……

      • ggroxie

        “Big Organic”? The organic foods industry has been & is growing despite GMOs not being labeled in the US & Canada, & despite their being labeled in Europe. Demand for organic foods is growing, due customers choosing to support a food system that is sustainable & that provides food that meets priorities around quality, safety, & purity. This is how a free market operates.

        • The organic industry is growing at a rate that outstrips domestic farmers’ ability to grow enough organic organic food thanks to tax-subsidized dis-information campaigns against GMO crops by organic activists.

          To clarify… the organic industry is NOT growing despite GMOs not being labelled. The multibillion dollar organic industry is growing so fast that it has to rely on foreign imports of fake organic food that test positive half the time for prohibited pesticides BECAUSE organic activists are focused solely on scaring people about GMOs.

          • ggroxie

            I fail to see the problem with demand driving production, or with demand outstripping production while production transitions to being able to supply demand. That’s just how a free market works.

            All of your other scary claims about “growing so fast” & “has to rely on foreign imports” & “fake organic food” are overstated if not ridiculous. You’re making up a problem to scare people, for what purpose I’m not sure.

          • So, when the CBC finally admitted that roughly 80% of all CFIA-certified-organic food sold in Canada is IMPORTED, you don’t see this as a problem for Canadian organic farmers?

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            This is one thing I have never ever heard a farmer say….they do say a lot about the cost of certification, the threat of contamination (due to the wind Mischa) and sourcing products to maintain that certification. We import a lot of food as canola, soy, sugar beet and corn do not really “feed” us.

          • The threat of contamination to organic crops is very, very low. I wouldn’t say it’s non-existent, but in over 500 organic farm inspections I only ever heard of a handful, perhaps 10 or 12 over 5 years. Some were just wishful thinking.

            Meanwhile the people who lead the organic industry turn a blind eye to cheap and often phony “organic” imports from countries like China, imports that comprise roughly 80% of all the organic food sold in Canada according to the CBC.

        • Warren Lauzon

          Whether or not organic is sustainable is debatable. To get the same over all food production using only organic methods would take from 20 to 40% more cropland area, and more water. The “quality, safety, and purity” is also debatable, considering that though organics make up about 2-3% of total sales, it accounts for over 10% of the recalls.

          • ggroxie

            Warren, organic farming methods are getting better & better. Some methods even hold great promise of being able to reverse climate change, e.g., Regenerative Organic Agriculture (ROA – Rodale Institute, PA), by returning atmospheric carbon to topsoil I’ve heard it referred to as “carbon farming” as well. Your numbers about industrial vs. organic yields are incorrect. Rodale Institute/Farm Systems Trial/USDA Agricultural Research Service numbers are inconsistent with yours. I’m unaware of the recall percentage, but 10% is not alarming in the slightest, considering that organics have higher standards than conventional foods.

          • richard

            More apocryphal statistics…. Why dont you speak to your agribiz 9 billion by 2050 delusion???

    • The majority of GMO crops are not owned by corporations. They are public domain.
      Do you know anyone with diabetes by the way?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        Are you talking about the majority of that which is used by farmers because if you are you are incorrect.

        • The majority of GMO crops are not owned by corporations. And whenever you see any GMO crop that is not yet being used by farmers, you can thank anti-GMO organic activists for gumming-up the regulatory approval process.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Exactly HOW do I “gum” up the regulatory process? Again, you are incorrect.

          • Anyone opposed to the science of genetic engineering is either knowingly or unknowingly contributing to the backlog in approving new GMO crops.

            GMO wheat, flax and Golden Rice have been on the back burner for over a decade. That’s all you, and people like you Sheryl.

  • Sheryl McCumsey

    WOW. Some of those anti-GMO types are genetic scientists who worked in the field running laboratories for 30 years. For example Dr. Thierry Vrain. Kevin Foltra says nothing here to explain himself. Another anti-GMO type would be David Suzuki who was also a genetic scientist…One very simple fact about the majority of GMO’s is that they are designed to tolerate round-up…..these crops get a number of passes with this herbicide and are therefore loaded with them. There are hundreds of studies to support the harm from herbicides. Let’s state facts and the science.

    • Warren Lauzon

      So I am wondering – where exactly are the science and facts in your post?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        I’d love to share them with you…being that there are hundreds of studies you are asking for a book. At least I am making a logical point which you aren’t doing.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        Read my post again. “One very simple fact about the majority of GMO’s is that they are designed to tolerate round-up..”

        • Warren Lauzon

          And if they did not tolerate Roundup? You seem to have zero historical perspective. You really need to look at things like crop yields and pesticide use before GMO’s were in common use.

          • Quite right Warren. While Roundup applications have increased, other pesticide applications have decreased, and dramatically so. Overall, farmers in Australia, India, America and Canada are apply far less pesticides per-acre and per-bushel of food thanks to GMOs.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            So now you agree that roundup has increased which accounts for a majority of GMO’s.

          • No. I said Roundup use has increased. That’s all.
            Meanwhile, the majority of GMO crops do not require a pesticide and are in fact non-proprietary.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            NO crop “requires pesticides and of course that is correct but these crops are DESIGNED to tolerate it which is different. Stop saying they are non-proprietary….the majority of the ones used are and have patents.

          • Most GMO crops are not DESIGNED to tolerate pesticides. Most are non-proprietary: brinjal, Golden Rice, citrus, bananas, papaya…
            It appears you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • The overwhelming majority of GMO crops do not tolerate Roundup, or any other pesticide for that matter.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            I Canada we have corn, canola, sugar beet and soy….the majority of crops that are “grown” are round-up ready.

      • Organic activists like Sheryl put their “best and brightest” up against ours and hope to carry the day. Facts and arguments don’t matter. It’s the cult of personality Warren. And good for you calling Sheryl on that!

        • Sheryl McCumsey

          For you facts and arguments don’t matter I see that.

          • Why not engage in a debate then Sheryl?

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            You idea of debate is to belittle people. Should I repeat what you just posted?

          • Sorry, where did I belittle you?

          • April Reeves

            You just did….

          • I suggested Sheryl engage in debate. How does that belittle you April?

          • April Reeves

            Read the comment again; it’s about Sheryl – not me….

        • Sheryl McCumsey

          Again, will this publication allow dialogue or remove any comments made by those of us who do like to see facts and arguments. I am not seeing an argument from the pro-side…I made a valid argument that has been ignored.

      • ggroxie

        For starters:
        (1) ENSSER statement signed by nearly 300 scientists & legal experts
        in late 2013, explaining that no epidemiological studies in human
        populations have been carried out to establish whether there are any health effects associated
        with GM food consumption, thus affirming that there is no scientific
        consensus on GM food safety; &
        (2) Earth Open Source report
        “GMO Myths & Truths”, a 330-page report that reviews a great many studies raising questions about GMO safety.

        Both are accessible online & are easy to locate.

        • Fortunately, science is not a democratic process ggroxie. But, with that said, it’s safe to say that far more than 300 scientists and legal experts support the use of GMOs.

          • ggroxie

            This isn’t a numbers game. This is an ongoing science effort. There is no definitive consensus on the safety of GMOs. The vast majority of physicians once assured us that smoking was not hazardous to our health. Most smoked themselves, & many even recommended smoking to relieve stress. As we learned more about the long-term health effects of tobacco, these numbers changed. Same thing is going on today with GMOs today.

          • GMOs have been on the market for 20 years, and European farmers have been relying on GMO feed for their livestock for over a decade. Not one single case of illness has been recorded, and yet you say there is no definitive consensus on the safety of GMOs? Wow. I guess we should say the same thing about everything… computers, cell phones, air bags, chlorinated water.

          • ggroxie

            We know when we’re purchasing & using computers, cell phones, air bags, & chlorinated water. GMOs are hidden in foods, unlabeled.

            20 years on the market proves nothing. No controls. No sure way of examining potential links between GMOs & chronic health conditions. Tobacco was on the market for much longer than 20 years.

            Plenty of evidence of possible harm from GMOs. That you are unaware of this seems astonishing. ENSSER statement – no epidemiological studies in human populations have been carried out to establish whether there are any health effects associated with GM food consumption – no scientific consensus on GM food safety. 330-page report “GMO Myths & Truths” reviews many, many studies raising questions about GMO safety. The effect of RoundUp on human health is widely recognized now; game’s up on industry safety claims around that herbicide that’s a companion product for GE herbicide-resistant seed.

            Hey thanks for the dialog. I’m through, because this is becoming circular & so unproductive. The same arguments keep popping up. I engaged here for the purposes of others who may be reading these comments, so I am finished. You have prompted a great deal of information sharing that will be of interest to those who are on the fence with this issue. Good luck to you purchasing & eating GM foods. Now let’s get back to the productive work of getting labeling legislation passed, so those of us who don’t share your decision to be a user of this technology can easily avoid foods that contain them.

          • GMOs are not hidden anymore than any system of crop-breeding is hidden. Do you have any idea which of your fave organic foods were harvested from crops that were developed through nuclear mutagenesis for instance?

            As for cell phones and computers, my point is that you have no idea HOW they work. But you still trust that they’re safe.

        • Warren Lauzon

          Legal experts are not scientists. In fact many of the other that signed it are not scientists or in the medical/bio/nutrition fields, so their “authority” knowledge is pretty limited.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            GMO Myths and Truths was written by scientists in this field.

    • hyperzombie

      The number one GMO trait is Bt, which allows farmers to NOT spray harmful insecticides.

      • ggroxie

        Nope. Herbicide tolerance continues to be the most common transgenic trait, which allows farmers to apply copious amounts of harmful herbicides on crops, killing every plant except the tolerant-GE crop, & resulting in adaptation in other plants for herbicide-tolerance, resulting in the agricultural biotechnology industry producing genetically engineered crops that are tolerant to more toxic herbicides. We’re becoming increasingly unable to use glyphosate, & so have approved for commercialization the use of dicamba & 2,4-D.

        • hyperzombie

          Nope. Herbicide tolerance continues to be the most common transgenic trait,

          Nope, over 7 million farmers in India grow Bt cotton, that is far more farmers than there is in North America and Europe combined.
          2-4-D has been used in NA for over 70 years, dicamba for over 60, these are not new.
          2-4-D is the number one herbicide for wheat and barley.

          • ggroxie

            Sorry Zombie. You are mistaken about this. And your references contain no context, so they are meaningless in this discussion. The amount of pesticides use has skyrocketed since the advent of GMOs. That is simply an indisputable fact. You can dispute which pesticides are worse, but you cannot dispute their increased use, & the fact that they are in our water, the air, the soil, human breast milk, the blood & urine of humans, & have even crossed the placenta.

          • hyperzombie

            The amount of pesticides use has skyrocketed since the advent of GMOs

            Nope, insecticide use is WAY down (over 90% in the corn belt alone) and herbicides by weight are up about 7%, but the toxicity (EIQ) is way down. I don’t think an increase of 7% in 20 years is skyrocketing.

            http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err-economic-research-report/err162.aspx

            You can dispute which pesticides are worse, but you cannot dispute their increased use, & the fact that they are in our water, the air, the soil, human breast milk, the blood & urine of humans, & have even crossed the placenta.

            This has nothing to do with GMOs, herbicides would be used even without GMOs at the same rate. The only thing that changes with GMOs is when crops are sprayed not how much.

          • ggroxie

            Sorry, you’re relying on misinformation, Zombie. Biotech industry lobbying groups, like ISAAA, provide industry-funded information to USDA about pesticide use & GMOs that is routinely disputed by independent advocacy groups that scrutinize the information given to the USDA by biotech.

            Over the first 13 years of commercial use, GE crops increased overall pesticide use by about 320 million pounds, compared to the pesticide amounts that probably would have been applied in the absence of herbicide-tolerant & Bt seeds.

            Time & again, biotech industry-funded data turns out to be wrong. This is why the GMO approval process in the US is finally going to be scrutinized per congressional request. The GAO will now be looking into the review system for GMO crop regulation “to ensure that it fully reflects current science.” The GAO will be examining how the FDA & USDA examine the long-term safety of GMOs for both the environment & the food supply.

            Things are changing, for the better.

          • If any of the information you claim ISAAA provides to the USDA about pesticide use & GMOs proved to be false, where are the lawsuits? Where are the body bags or the trips to the emergency ward with a food-borne illness?

            If what you say is true and the USDA, FDA and EPA all just take all their information at face value from the makers of pesticide GMOs, you have to admit the information they’re provided turns out to be totally solid.

        • I guess you weren’t aware that killing every plant except for the crop has been the goal of farming for 13,000 years now.

          • Dayton

            Exactly 13,000 years? Show us proof.

          • April Reeves

            Really? Where did you get that? Very few dessicate here.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        It is not NUMBER one GMO product…it is one product that is actually registered as an “insecticide.”

        • hyperzombie

          So, all citrus fruits contain D-Limonene an EPA registered pesticide, all tomatoes and potatoes contain nicotine sulphate a registered pesticide that is so dangerous that it is banned in North America for commercial use.
          Bt is totally harmless to humans.

        • Yes, Bt is an insecticide. It is an ORGANIC insecticide that has no effect on animals or humans when consumed.

          Only when Bt is applied to a crop as in organic applications does it have harmful effects on humans, as well as on non-target insects.

          When Bt is spliced into a GMO crop, it has no effect whatsoever on the farmer or his workers, and only kills insects that try to eat the crop, thus sparing the lives of non-target insects.

          • NoToGMOs

            Bt used in organic: is inactive and is contained within a capsule that requires an alkaline insect gut to dissolve it. Can easily be washed off and degrades fast on exposure to sunlight. Used only as ‘spot’ treatment when necessary.

            Bt in Bt GMO crops: is produced directly in its active form and does not have the protective capsule. Cannot be washed off as it is produced in every cell of the plant, all the time.

            Big difference.

            “When Bt is spliced into a GMO crop, it has no effect whatsoever on the farmer or his workers, and only kills insects that try to eat the crop, thus sparing the lives of non-target insects.”

            Where are the studies that Bt does not affect non-target insects, soil dwelling organisms and our gut bacteria?

          • Nice try… whoever you are. But where is a single example of harm resulting from GMO Bt crops?

          • NoToGMOs

            Address the points I raised or admit you don’t have a clue and are just going around in circles playing with semantics.

            And you still haven’t answered my question:

            Where are the studies that Bt does not affect non-target insects, soil dwelling organisms and our gut bacteria?

            Answer that and I may deign to answer yours.

          • Before you go after the Bt that’s spliced into GMO Bt crops and ask if it’s safe, we already know that when Bt is applied to an organic field it has an immediate health impact on farm workers and non-target insects.

            We also know that humans can safely consume Bt, and that the amounts of Bt in a GMO Bt crop are on the order of 10,000 times less than the amount of Bt an organic farmer applies to his land.

            Finally, we know that unless an insect tries to eat a GMO Bt crop, it will not succumb to the affects of Bt.

      • Debbie Owen

        Because the GMO plant has been genetically engineered to produce it’s own insecticide which will not wash off. GMO Bt corn is even registered as a pesticide with the EPA and it is in so many of of our food products. Also the use of herbicides is greatly increased in GMO crops, being Round Up ready is not a good thing.

        • As Roundup use goes up, the use of other pesticides goes down.

          • April Reeves

            Oh great. And isn’t Roundup now being replaced because of the weed issue? Wow, that’s working really well eh?

          • If weeds develop resistance to Roundup, that would be good for organic farmers because they reject Roundup.

    • Are you suggesting that the mere mention of names like Vrain and Suzuki are enough to discredit the science of genetic engineering? Please name just one substantive thing either of these anti-GMO scientists have said that should convince us to discard this 30-year-old field of science.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        You say that there is no one and no evidence and then when it is presented to you…you ignore it. I already posted a “fact”….

        • What did I ignore?

          Where is the case where someone got sick or died from eating GMOs?

          You can’t show a single case where a single farm animal anywhere in the world even got an upset tummy from consuming GMOs feed.

          Where you aware that GMO feed has been routinely fed to European livestock for over a decade now without incident?

          So go ahead and post some facts to the contrary. We’re all waiting.

          • Ian Forrester

            Here is a peer reviewed article on damage to the health of pigs fed RR GMO feed:

            http://omicsonline.org/open-access/detection-of-glyphosate-in-malformed-piglets-2161-0525.1000230.pdf

          • I know a few Hutterite colonies that feed literally tens-of-thousands of pigs nothing but GMO feed. And they’re quite happy with the results!

          • April Reeves

            Actually, the Hutterites in our area of Alberta are beginning to switch. The east colony by Stettler and Three Hills switched a few years ago.

          • If any farmers choose to switch away from GMOs, I totally support them. That’s the way the free market works.

          • April Reeves

            Just because something doesn’t kill you right away doesn’t make it safe. Vrain and Suzuki have the same training GM scientists have. Why would they be so eager to engage in halting it? Why? Why are they not going after tomato growers? There must be something that they see and are willing to risk their jobs and careers for. And that’s the difference right there; most Pro will not put their necks out when they see something wrong because it’s the end of their careers. Monsanto has deep pockets.

          • I can’t speak for Vrain and Suzuki, but I can certainly speculate. It seems to me that all of their concerns surrounding GMOs are political, not scientific.

          • April Reeves

            Until you begin to look at it scientifically you will always have this job. That alone speaks volumes…

          • Newsflash for you April…

            I grew up on an organic grain farm in Saskatchewan, and worked for five years as a USDA-contract organic inspector. So I’ve actually been looking at this scientifically since 1998!
            Surprised?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        Will this publication allow arguments for both sides to be shared?….These crops have not been on the market for 30 years….and it is only in the last 5-10 years that they have increased substantially. These scientists, among others worldwide, have provided arguments that are science based and not what is being indicated here…the increase of glyphosate use has resulted in degradation of soil, weed resistance and in scientific peer reviewed studies indicate significant harm to human health. It is not precise and should not be on our dinner plates. There are reasons why antibiotic resistant markers are needed to “mark” the DNA inserted into the plant cells. Again, what argument are you providing here that says we need or should listen to you?

  • Terry

    The anti side can pretty much say whatever they want? So can the peer reviewed proprietary science side? Can t they? Or are they censoring what they say.

    It’s pretty much a given that chemicals and the gmos associated with those chemicals are everywhere and in the air we breath and the food we eat. Roundup was recently found in mothers breastmilk, why did uncle Jim die suddenly from cancer, why are weeds getting resistant? The public doesn t know about the overuse and blanket coverage that goes on.

    The anti side cannot say just anything. They are asking the hard questions that the chemical companies refuse to answer. When was the last time you heard a Monsanto representative comment on these issues?

    • You’re talking about a very small proportion of GMO crops Terry.

      The majority of GMO crops are non-proprietary and do not require any chemicals. In fact, if you wanted, you could grow them under organic management, but for the fact that anti-GMO organic activists WILL NEVER certify your crop as organic because they summarily reject this field of science.

      Imagine… rejecting a whole field of science on ideological grounds. After that, it hardly matters what questions the organic industry asks. They’ve lost all credibility.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        This is incorrect. Most are designed to be sprayed with herbicide. What is the ideological ground you speak of? You do not provide any argument simply make statements which are incorrect and defamatory.

        • Most GMO crops are NOT designed to be sprayed with a pesticide.

          GMO Golden Rice, bananas, brinjal, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, citrus, papaya… these are all crops that could br grown under organic management, if only organic activists would take President Clinton’s advice and accept GMOs on a case-by-case basis.

          • NoToGMOs

            The majority of GMOs (over 99%) cultivated today and for the past 17 years have two traits: herbicide (Roundup) resistance and Bt toxin (insecticide) production, nothing else.

            All the others that you mention except for Bt brinjal (just started cultivation on a limited scale in Bangladesh) and papaya (grown in Hawaii and constitutes less than 1% of all currently grown GMOs) are hypothetical and not approved for commercial cultivation currently.

          • Well this is remarkable.

            What you’re admitting to here is that if anti-GMO organic activists can keep on suppressing all of the non-proprietary, non-pesticide-related GMO crops being worked on around the world right now, you’ll be able to carry on attacking GMOs on the basis that they’re proprietary crops that require pesticides.

            Have I got that right?

  • Brenda Frick

    There may indeed be some misrepresentation of the science by anti-GMO activists. There is also some misrepresentation of the science by pro-GMO lobbyists. Yes, the science needs to be closely examined to be understood. But it is also important to ask ‘Who benefits?’ and to follow the money.

    • Warren Lauzon

      That works both ways. Who benefits if GMO crops go away? Why has Big Organic poured millions into pushing for laws against GMO’s?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        If this is simply about money wouldn’t it work well for them to just have that “niche” market? The pro-GMO industry puts a lot more money into blocking labeling….it’s laughable you bring this up as an argument.

      • Quite right Warren!

        And don’t forget that a very large slice of the millions of dollars the organic movement spends to try to destroy the stellar reputation of genetic engineering comes from you and me. Brenda Frick, for instance, enjoys the benefits of employment at a public university.

        It’s time for tax-funded anti-GMO organic activism to fund itself.

        • Sheryl McCumsey

          Tax-funded? HA! I get nothing for what I do. I do this because I see people getting sick, the environment being degraded, my country being negatively impacted, my planet being destroyed. I have contacts across the globe…scientists, farmers and the general public who literally “feel” the harm. I do this because it is the right thing to do and I understand the science. What do you do Mischa Popoff?

          • Please show a single example of where someone fell ill due to GMOs. Just one please.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            I know a lot more than one. Celiac disease was diagnosed by eliminating wheat…..people have eliminated GMO’s from their diet and became well….(or ate strictly organic)…reintroduced it and became sick….eliminated and became well. This is one of the reasons we don’t believe you because we KNOW. Also, 5 million Canadians are living with IBS and Crohn’s…those are the ones diagnosed with it. Canada is a world leader for this….The second most common cancer in Canada is BOWEL cancer…..95% correlation with many illnesses. I hear there are no tummy aches blah blah blah…..you asked for an example. Tobacco did the same thing. Smokers got sick….industry lied. Now you will say correlation does not equal causation. Tell that to people who feel better….

          • JoeFarmer

            ” Celiac disease was diagnosed by eliminating wheat”

            There is no GMO wheat. And you don’t diagnose celiac disease by excluding a food, it takes blood tests and an intestinal biopsy!

      • Dana Lee Blackwell

        The organic community has put a few million in to protect their way of farming – the other side has put hundreds of millions in to block any progress towards labelling. This comment makes me think you have done no research on this topic at all.
        As far as who benefits if GMO went bye-bye – the earth, the people, human and animal health, small farmers, microbes…they would all benefit if we stopped putting toxic chemicals into the soil and water.

        • Warren Lauzon

          You keep bringing up that silly “if we stopped putting toxic chemicals into the soil and water” meme, totally ignoring the fact that if GMO’s went away that pesticide use would increase. You keep conflating GMO’s with pesticides, assuming apparently the non-GMO crops would use no or less pesticides. Totally illogical.

        • Warren Lauzon

          You start with “farming” then you switch to labeling. What did I miss?

      • ggroxie

        “Big Organic”? There is no “Big Organic” pouring millions into pushing for laws against GMOs.

        Just during the current election cycle:
        Monsanto & Dow AgroSciences – $8 million to defeat Maui County’s GMO initiative.
        DuPont – $4.46 million to defeat Oregon’s Measure 92.
        Monsanto – $4 million to defeat 92.
        Total spent so far to defeat GMO labeling in Oregon – $16.3 million.
        Monsanto – $4.7 million to defeat Colorado’s Prop 105 GMO labeling initiative. PepsiCo – $1.65 million. Kraft – $1.03 million. Hershey – $380,000. CocaCola – $277,000. Others – $3.2 million.
        Total spent so far to defeat GMO labeling in Colorado – $11 million.

        • Warren Lauzon

          Look at where the money for the anti-GMO side is coming from also. It is all listed.

          • ggroxie

            Warren, I’m surprised that you would bring up the money spent by pro-labeling forces, as a defense for not labeling. Re Oregon’s Measure 92: Opposition forces – $11.2 million. Labeling supporters – $6.2 million. So labeling supporters are providing about 35% of the campaign spending, & they include (are you ready?) Friends of Family Farmers, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, & Dr. Mercola. I’m not sure I understand what your concerns are about the sources of the Oregon Right to Know funding.

          • NoToGMOs

            A lot of the money for the pro-labeling side is coming from thousands upon thousands of individual citizens: mothers, fathers, grandparents etc, all concerned about the food they feed themselves and their children.

            Can you name one individual citizen donor for the anti-labeling side?

    • You mean like, who benefits from the first commercial GMO crop? Papaya? It was developed in a public university. the only people who benefit are papaya farmers, and consumers who buy papaya. Then there’s GMO brinjal, Golden Rice and bananas, all of which are non-proprietary, open-source GMOs.

      As a publicly-funded representative of the organic movement Brenda, and as a staunch and vocal objector to the 30-year-old science of genetic engineering, don’t you think it’s about time you provided some evidence for your views?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        We have all seen you on these sites and know your connections to this so why do you use this as an argument. Golden Rice is not on the market…neither is the banana. In order for people to absorb Vitamin A they need fat in their diet. The issue is poverty and accessibility to good food not a product that is patented and unnecessary.

        • The only reason GMO Golden Rice and bananas aren’t on the market is because organic activists are stonewalling them.

          I return to my assertion that the majority of GMOs are non-proprietary.

          • Ian Forrester

            Golden rice is being held up by the very Institute that is researching it. The local farmers will not grow it because it produces lower yields than conventional strains.

            See here:

            http://irri.org/golden-rice/faqs/what-is-the-status-of-the-golden-rice-project-coordinated-by-irri

          • Lower yields but higher nutrition… Hmm… sounds like the case organic activists make for organic food!

          • April Reeves

            I know no one with low organic yields.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Can you provide evidence for that? Golden Rice is not yet registered and this has nothing to do with organic. It is also a useless product due to the fact that you need fat to absorb vitamin A…give these people a proper diet.

          • You can certainly argue that GMO Golden Rice doesn’t measure up. But you cannot deny that Greenpeace and organic activists are lined up against Golden Rice, along with all GMOs, for no good reason.
            GMOs are none of the organic industry’s business.

          • April Reeves

            GMO products are everyone’s concern. What other food company has to pay consultants to argue for them? No tomato grower, and certainly NO organic grower, LOL!

          • GMOs are no more “everyone’s concern” than any new crop variety is.
            Why don’t you trust farmers April?

          • April Reeves

            It’s not about trust. It’s about the language GM seed reps feed them about the products they’re growing. I’ve asked many farmers over the years why they grow GE seed; about 60% didn’t know they were.

          • April Reeves

            Answer my questions directly please…

          • You mean: “What other food company has to pay consultants to argue for them?”
            I think, to be completely accurate here April, organic stakeholders employ just as many consultants as biotech companies do.

        • April Reeves

          What I don’t understand about the Golden Rice theory is that it suggests the poor can just continue to eat rice. There are far more healthier choices that will give them their vitamin A, but it’s not the ‘food’ that’s the problem; it’s the access. I also question then, if Golden Rice is for people with no money, will the proprietors of GR give it away?

        • Jackie Robin

          Golden Rice will be made available free to the farmers who need it. And it has been proven effective. Read about the project here: http://www.goldenrice.org/ And here is a transcribed interview with Ingo Potrykus who created the first Golden Rice: http://www.agwest.sk.ca/blog/posts/An-interview-with-Ingo-Potrykus-creator-of-Golden-Rice.html

          • Just one minor yet crucial point Jackie…

            Golden Rice will be made available free to the farmers, as soon as organic activists get out of the way and stop pretending it poses a threat.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        I posted an argument to your claims and it was removed…why is that? Will this publication allow both sides of this issue to be discussed?

        • Sheryl – your posts are not being removed.

          ALL comments are moderated by WP eds (primarily me) before being posted to the site.

          As it is the weekend, I’ve spent most of the afternoon and the early evening shuttling kids back and forth to hockey in Saskatoon – I live 30 kms outside the city.

          Please, allow us some time to do our jobs before making claims of censorship.

          It is, after all, the weekend…

          Cheers,
          Paul – WP web ed

  • Wow. An article about opposition to GMOs that fails to mention the organic industry.

    Is this the editorial policy of the Western Producer? Or did the report do this all on his own. Or… was it Kevin Folta who’s guilty of this glaring omission?

  • Dana Lee Blackwell

    So high school science teachers are now considering themselves scientists? That’s a little bit far-fetched, isn’t it? I am a certified Lab Assistant. Does that make me a scientist too?
    Pushing an agenda on school children is not an objective way to teach any topic. Teachers should be presenting the facts of both sides, and allowing the children to formulate their own opinions about it. There is plenty of evidence that GMO farming methods can be harmful to the environment and human health. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that.

    • Warren Lauzon

      This is exactly the same kind of argument that the creationist crowd makes – that we should teach both sides, even if the anti-GMO side is totally devoid of any scientific evidence or facts.

      • Dana Lee Blackwell

        What is scientific about spraying chemicals on the food we eat? What is scientific about creating monocultures which destroy biodiversity? What is scientific about processing food so that it can be used for processed food?

        • hyperzombie

          Nothing that you mention has anything to do with GMOs…Conventional crops are sprayed with chemicals (more often), monoculture is a farming issue nothing to do with GMO, processing crops has nothing to do with GMO.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            It has everything to do with it. Corn, canola, sugar beet and soy are primary GMO’s used in Canada and are added to processed foods….GMO’s are grown as a monoculture crop…..conventional corn, canola, sugar beet and soy would not be sprayed as often due to the FACT that they would not be designed to tolerate round-up. Most of the farmers reading this already know that as well.

          • Jen

            Before Roundup tolerant crops existed, farmers had to spray a slew of other herbicides, most of them more toxic then glyphosate, in order to kill the weeds (all farmers know this). Monoculture is a common practice in all forms of agriculture and is not a function of the crop being GMO, take wheat for example (and there is no GMO wheat). As Mischa said, this is even practiced in organic agriculture.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Wheat maybe sprayed ONCE at time of harvest….I never said using pesticides was good but you are the one who is saying it is necessary when other practices exist and are being used. The relationship to a product designed to TOLERATE herbicide is in a class all of its own.

          • April Reeves

            Really? Organic practices this? I’ll have to tell my colleagues next meeting. Should bring a few giggles out…..

          • JoeFarmer

            “GMO’s are grown as a monoculture crop”

            Any row crop is a temporary monoculture.

            “conventional corn, canola, sugar beet and soy would not be sprayed as
            often due to the FACT that they would not be designed to tolerate
            round-up. Most of the farmers reading this already know that as well.”

            Nonsense.

          • Jackie Robin

            All agricultural crops are monoculture – that’s what make it a ‘crop.’ And all crop production methods (yes, organic too) use pesticides. Scientists have been working for years to develop better, safer pesticides. But GMO doesn’t only cover herbicide resistance – also nutritional enhancement and pest resistance.

          • April Reeves

            That is not true Jackie. The only modification is to pesticides. There is no modification to nutrition in any of the current commodity crops. Golden rice is the only nutritional modification to date.

          • Jen

            April, if you look at the Health Canada and CFIA list of approved GM crops you will see a slew of improved oil products such as Omega 3 (SDA) soybeans (MON87769), high oleic soybeans (MON 87705 and Event 305423), enhanced stearate soybean, NuSun mid oleic sunflower, high oleic low linoleic canola. All which were designed with nutrition in mind. Each with a specific purpose, some for cooking that increase stability and reduce trans fats, and some for eating raw (omega 3). At the CFIA website you can search a database of approved PNT’s and you can search by Novel Trait. One of the categories is altered plant growth, development and composition. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/active/eng/plaveg/bio/pntvcne.asp

          • Hang on April. The only reason there are no modifications to nutrition in any existing GMO crops is because organic activists have succeeded in suppressing ALL forms of new GMO crops.

            We’re stuck with the same handful of GMO crops we had 10 years ago! And it’s thanks to tax-funded organic activism, plain and simple.

            Once organic activists accept GMOs instead of rejecting them, a deluge of new GMO varieties, many of which will offer nutritional enhancement just like Golden Rice does, will make their way to farmers’ fields across the continent.

          • Great point about monocultures. In over 500 organic inspections over 5 years I never met an organic farmer who wasn’t practicing monoculture.

          • Randall

            I spray my GMO corn with herbicide less than I spray my conventional corn with herbicide.

            The reason for this is that I have to be further ahead of the curve with conventional, and I can’t take as much risk. I can afford to be more reactive with GMO spraying whereas I must be more proactive with conventional spraying.

            The opposite of what you say is true for my experience.

        • The three things you just described – spraying chemicals on food, monocultures and processing food – are all common practice in the organic industry.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Perhaps you need Mischa to compare organic with conventional by looking at the standards you claim to be so familiar with.

          • You’re clearly unfamiliar with organic pesticides. Perhaps you should start by reading the standards you claim I’m not familiar with.

            Unlike synthetic pesticides, organic pesticides are non-discriminatory, broad-spectrum, and kill non-target insects.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            You are unable to state facts as they truly are. Synthetic pesticides are certainly NOT specific! It is ridiculous how you continue to make it appear that organic is damaging our environment like GMO’s and synthetic pesticides are….

          • It’s true that some synthetic pesticides are not specific. But many are.

            Meanwhile, ALL organic pesticides are non-specific, killing non-target pests each and every time they’re employed.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            I can think of many examples which contradict what you have just said.

          • April Reeves

            NO they are not! OMG, you guys are really pushing limits and truth. I don’t know a single organic farmer in BC that uses anything. I am in Alberta and have not found one that uses any pesticide yet either. No monocrops yet either, just larger acres of clean barley and wheat, but we grow exclusively for companies like Nature’s Path and other organic processing companies. The Kootenays has a great deal of clean food processors.

          • Jackie Robin

            Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to grow enough food without pesticides of any kind! Unfortunately there are so many critters who like to eat the same stuff we do. Our food production would drop dramatically if we all farmed organically. To be clear, pesticides are allowed in organic agriculture, just not synthetic pesticides. Luckily, pesticides are much safer than they once were (thanks to science). Bt is considered natural and therefore allowed in organic farming. Bt is very targeted – specific to a particular pest (and can be delivered through GM tech to be even more targeted). But there are other natural pesticides that aren’t so friendly. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/organic-pesticides-can-be-worse-than-synthetic-study/article4322612/).

      • April Reeves

        Scientific, possibly. Wise….not even close.

        • Wisdom and science are one and the same. It’s how we use science that makes it wise or not. But you can’t pretend that science in and of itself is not wise.

    • hyperzombie

      What is a GMO farming method….

      • Dana Lee Blackwell

        In this instance I am referring to spraying RoundUp or other pesticides on crops – which can negatively affect the pollinators, birds and frogs. Also, the creation of vast monocultures which depletes natural biodiversity and soil life. In addition, most GMO crops are used in processed foods, so their existence leads to cheaper and lower quality food ingredients which are mainly used as sweeteners, flavourings or fillers – aspartame, GMO sugar, HFCS, soy lecithin, etc…

        • hyperzombie

          well spraying pesticides has nothing to do with GMOs. Conventional and Organic farmers also spray.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            It has everything to do with it! Most of them in use are designed to tolerate it!

          • hyperzombie

            same with conventional crops, yet no one has a problem with herbicide tolerant conventionals crops.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Herbicide tolerant conventional crops?? Could you name one?

          • hyperzombie

            Sure i could, Clearfield(bayer sprayed with beyond) crops are herbicide tolerant (soy, wheat, rice, sunflowers and canola) Wheat is naturally resistant to 2-4-D, corn is resistant to Atrazine. There are lots of others.

          • JoeFarmer

            Here’s a few herbicides that can be used either preplant, preemergence or postemergence on conventional corn:

            Atrazine
            Acetochlor
            Metolachlor
            Nicosulfuron
            Thiefensulfuron
            Carfentrazone
            Isoxaflutole
            I could add another dozen easily, but you should get the point.

            Herbicides for conventional soybeans:

            Sulfentrazone
            Imazethapyr
            Metribuzin
            Chlorimuron
            Thifensulfuron
            Metolachlor
            Fomesafen
            Sulfentrazone
            Pendamethlin
            There are a few more, too…

            There are plenty of herbicides for use with conventional sugar beets and cotton, too.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Pre or post…not during….this is exactly my point.

          • Dayton

            OK, how much chemicals do Organic producers spray and what value compared to conventional producers?1 million to 1?

          • The major problem with “organic” pesticides isn’t limited to the quantities used, although that can indeed be a HUGE problem.

            The major problem is that “organic” pesticides are non-discriminatory. In other words, they kill non-target pests. Also, when we talk about organic pesticides like copper sulfate, they bioaccumulate in the soil.

            As an organic farmer and inspector, I never understood why organic pesticides were deemed better than synthetic ones. Organic farmers don’t use “natural” horsepower anymore. The “synthetic” tractor works much better than the “natural” horse.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Are you going to say neonicotinoids are specific? 50 scientists have reviewed 800 peer-reviewed studies and say this insecticide needs to be phased out NOW…it is killing all insects and many species of birds. Where is YOUR farm Mischa.

          • It’s certainly true that many synthetic pesticides are non-specific.

            But ALL organic pesticides are non-specific, and kill non-target insects indiscriminately, while also harming the mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles that eat these insects after they’ve been sprayed.

      • ggroxie

        GMO farming methods do not lend themselves to sustainable farming practices. GMO farming methods involve disrupting the natural interconnections between organisms & their environment, such as sterilizing the soil of any life, including life which is beneficial to plant growth, before planting. GMO farming methods also involve seeds with poor fertility which are patented, & so cannot be saved for future crops. GMO farming methods are promoted by the industrial food industry, & involve monocropping, which involves growing food under “plant factory” or “assembly line” conditions in soil which has been stripped of its soil biology which is then replaced with chemical fertilizers.

        GMO farming methods are in opposition to both the organic food movement’s priorities
        that revolve around the quality, safety, & purity of food, as well
        as to the priorities of national environmental groups with priorities
        that revolve around removing dangerous pesticides from farming.

        • All forms of farming involve disrupting the natural interconnections between organisms & their environment. In fact, that’s the definition of farming ggroxie.
          Nature doesn’t feed us. Farmers do.

          • ggroxie

            Sure, Mischa. But you overlook critical differences. GMO monoculture & organic farming are very, very different. GMO mono-cropping (Monsanto-style industrialized farming) involves synthetic fertilizers & toxic pesticides & is part of the supply system for CAFOs. Organic farming methods involve sustainable practices like crop rotation, soil-building practices, & pasture systems.

            Monsanto-style industrialized farming gives us fuel for motorized vehicles, commodity crops for the highly refined ingredients that go into processed foods, & livestock feed for CAFOs. Organic farming methods provide actual food, the kind that provides our bodies with the building blocks of life without contributing to chronic health conditions like cancers, diabetes, obesity, metabolic disorders, neurological disorders, & so on.

          • There you go again, pretending GMOs can be equated with your most-hated corporation, Monsanto. Everyone knows the majority of GMO crops are non-proprietary.

          • ggroxie

            Not sure what you mean by “there you go again”, but I did not equate GMOs with Monsanto, nor is Monsanto “my most hated corporation”. Your comments are flailing, Mischa. In the US, Monsanto is the most widely recognized agricultural biotechnology corporation, because it’s based there. Other companies include Bayer (Germany) & Syngenta (Switzerland). Perhaps you would prefer if I called it DuPont-style industrialized farming. Or Monsanto-DuPont-style industrialized farming. Look, this thread is a discussion about organic farming methods compared to GMO farming methods, so I would prefer it if we keep this thread on topic.

            Re “everyone knows the majority of GMO crops are non-proprietary” – Sorry, Mischa, but this claim was recently debunked by Hope Shand, former research director of ETC Group, at the 2-day information-gathering event on GE crops at The National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences. Six seed corporations now control this market, & these 6 companies don’t compete; they collaborate. In recent decades, the seed industry has experienced a faster rate of market concentration than any other farm input sector, & seed prices have shot up more than any other farm input, more than doubling relative to the prices farmers received for harvested crops.

            For others who may be reading this thread, I will post the link to Shand’s presentation, as this topic is much too complex to be discussed in a discus thread. http://vimeo.com/106926310

            Suffice it to say here that the statement “everyone knows the majority of GMO crops are non-proprietary” lacks relevant context, & is misleading at the least while being flat-out wrong at the worst.

          • You’re right to point out my exaggeration ggroxie. Please allow me to clear things up here: The overwhelming majority of GMO crops are non-proprietary.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            On what planet? Certainly not in this country.

          • Just out of curiosity Sheryl, where is your farm?

            As long as organic activists like you continue to suppress all of the non-proprietary, non-pesticide GMO crops being developed, you’ll be able to pretend GMOs are all about forcing farmers to use pesticides and hand money over to corporations.

            The fact is, as I stated, that the overwhelming majority of GMOs are non-proprietary and non-pesticide.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Incorrect. Incorrect and incorrect.

          • Please answer my question: Where do you farm?

          • Jen

            ggroxie, what you may not realize is that tech developers, such as Monsanto, actually do encourage sustainable farming practices and integrated pest management such as crop rotation. These practices are actually essential for the longevity of their products due to the evolution of resistance. As resistance becomes a bigger issue, and no new active ingredients are discovered, these practices will become more and more critical for the grower. We really need to forget the GMO vs organic divide, it is not an all or nothing relationship and not in our best interest to put so much effort into choosing one method over the other. There are common practices for both, maybe more then you realize. The focus should be on encouraging responsible and sustainable farming practices across all types of farming. It is possible even with GM traits! Also, companies like Monsanto and Syngenta do not just develop big commodity crops, they also have huge vegetable seed businesses (non GMO) and invest a lot of research dollars into developing new vegetable varieties with consumers in mind (improved nutrition, taste and convenience). We need to encourage this innovation and find ways to produce more from less , perhaps this can help drive down costs of healthier foods. Finally, the main drivers for the increase in planting of commodity crops like field corn is due to an increase in meat consumption (thus increasing the need for animal feed), particularly in developing nations that are becoming more affluent. While a vegetarian diet may be considered healthier, it is more of an ethical dilema to deny the choice. Consumer demands drive production, not the other way around.

        • Jen

          Actually, GM crops allow for soil conservation. By reducing the need to till the soil for weed management, soil and all the nutrients in it are conserved. GM seeds do not have poor fertility, and I think you may be confusing this with hybrids. Offspring from hybrids do not perform as well and so farmers do not save seed. I won’t get into it but hybrid seed is one of the main contributors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century. Most corn and canola grown today are hybrids and they also have GM traits, but these are not one in the same. Hybrid does not equal GMO, it is done through breeding, and hybrids also exist in organic agricultre. Yes GMOs are patented (just like any innovation that requires a large investment), but farmers obviously see the benefit, and even though the seed costs more and they have to buy new seed every year, they are saving time, total pesticides used, fuel, ect. If it wasn’t worth it, it wouldn’t have become so popular and widespread. As for monocropping, as stated above, this is not unique to GMO farming and is common for conventional and organic farming.

          • Dayton

            Guess you haven’t read the latest articles in the WP. No till isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Now everyone is promoting their version of a non compacting, herbicide tilling, trash burying oh so ancient Disc. Lol!

    • Please provide a single piece of evidence that GMO farming methods can be harmful to the environment and human health.

      Meanwhile, organic farming methods are very harmful on the environment and human health. So, why are we forced to subsidize the organic industry with our taxes Dana?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        What? I have researched that and many millions of dollars are going into subsidizing this industry NOT organic. It is well known that you do not like this industry and support GMO farming…Dana just listed you reasons for the harm involved. Hundreds of studies on the pesticides used support this.

        • If I didn’t support the organic industry, I’d step aside and let it collapse under its own bureaucratic weight. Instead, I’m trying to save the organic industry I grew up in. And the first step to saving the organic industry is to get organic activists to drop their unfounded opposition to GMOs.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            I have not seen anything you had ever said to be “supporting” of this industry. There is nothing “unfounded” about contamination with GMO’s….this is where lawsuits have come in…..the wind blows in case you haven’t noticed.

          • The few lawsuits that were launched all failed.
            There is no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs. If there was, you’d be able to show where in the standards for organic production this contamination is described.

          • Ian Forrester

            This is not what happened at all. Organic canola is almost nonexistent in Canada now because of contamination by GM canola. What the lawsuits were about was liability not that there had been no contamination. That fact, that organic canola has been contaminated by GM canola, is well established.

            http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-On-the-Market/Canola

          • The only reason organic canola is nearly non-existent Ian is because the organic activists who run organic-certifying agencies forced organic farmers to quit growing it.

            Nothing… I repeat NOTHING, prevents an organic farmer from growing organic canola right next to a GMO canola field. If I’m wrong Ian, please show where it says so in Canada’s or America’s standards.

            Organic farmers are only prevented from using GMOs themselves. There is no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            All farmers are aware of growing any crop beside a GMO crop and the what the chances are that they could face and have in the past a lawsuit……organic has standards which do not allow synthetic pesticides or GMO’s in the crop. You need only 1% contamination to risk losing your crop to them.

          • JoeFarmer

            LOL, the “Monsanto sues innocent farmers” meme!

          • Not only that JoeFarmer, but notice that Sheryl doesn’t even understand how organic standards work. So many people like her claim to be advocates FOR organic farming above all else. But they don’t even understand organic farming.

          • In America, the threshold limit for prohibited pesticides in an organic crop is 5% of the conventional limit. Not 1%.

            In Canada there is no threshold limit because organic stakeholders did not want one and officials at the CFIA caved, putting politics ahead of science. So, theoretically, an organic crop in Canada can fail on the conventional scale, but still pass as an organic crop.

            Meanwhile, there is no threshold limit for GMOs in either Canada or the US because, of course, GMOs are neither a substance nor an ingredient. And this is why no organic farmer in Canada or the US has ever been de-certified due to his crop making contact in any way with a neighboring GMO crop.

          • April Reeves

            Then I’ll add a few to your new list: in Richmond BC (the GE Free zone) we had 3 dairy farms growing GM. Several neighbors were growing the old dark kernel corns for the Halloween markets. The first year, they found numerous yellow kernels in their corn. Pollination of corn is by wind and can indeed cross contaminate each kernel individually.

    • soiled

      Pure ignorance and our failing education system are to blame for people/industry that are willing to take an absolute position on GMO safety even though we have just begun to understand the genetics of our guts, animals and insects. The long-term effects of GMOs have just started to be researched.(Factor GMO). The current industry-led science ignores that we are 90% bacteria (like plants) and only 10% human cells. Big Ag research ignores this and only observes our cells reactions to Roundup/Glysophates. Well… like plants, our stomach bacteria, needed to process our nutrients, is disrupted. All the new gut (Microbiome) science that is being mapped, realizes the important pathways our flora is to our whole health.

  • Sheryl McCumsey

    So Paul…where are his words? I have never heard this man be disrespectful and I know him.

  • John Fefchak

    Private science and public good not always the same.
    I agree, but my question (or observation) is: “But how does one separate the two?”

    Profit and destruction are two of the major reasons for the application of science today,whereas environmental and associated social costs are seldom, seriously addressed.
    I don’t approve but can understand why university scientists who have been underfunded for so long,welcome generous grants and the many extras offered by industry and corporate endeavours.

    I appreciate the additional finances are a life line for some universities to survive; but it seems to me,
    that it is reasonable to ask: “What is expected in return by these fund givers”?.
    For instance, will scientists in such a relationship, be influenced to achieve and even promote findings that are not strictly factual conclusions of their research, but are beneficial to the situation of their kindly patrons?
    Then there are many self-regulated companies and industries that have the need and also the resources to employ and maintain their very own faculty of experts. Those individuals,among them, scientists, who will serve in research, advance new products and help deflect any criticism that may be encountered.
    Again, one must consider the reputation and integrity of that company to help determine if true science will be upheld or will it be compromised. But in the final analysis, it comes down to two things.
    First: Who is paying for the work? and
    Second: What does that particular company want by way of controlling or predetermining the outcome of any research that is undertaken?.

    The examples that I have put forth are typical of to-day’s modern society that allows the truth of science
    to become a casualty and therefore, a victim, influenced in many ways by the interfering role of politics.

    So, the question remains: “How does one separate politics from interfering with science”?.

  • healthangel

    ” The anti side can say what they want?” This infuriates me! Perhaps the science teachers should have come out to hear Dr Thierry Vrain speak this summer in Winnipeg.http://naturalsociety.com/former-biotech-scientist-admits-gmos-not-safe/

    • Pretending GMO crops contaminate organic crops is a solid example of anti-GMO organic activists saying whatever they want. There is no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs.

      • Dayton

        Triffod!

        • What is a Triffod? Is it a wonderful thing? Or a horrible thing?
          Did you mean Triffid?

  • healthangel

    There is plenty of research from independent scientists such as Dr Stephanie Seneff, Dr Thierry Vrain , Dr Hubner and Dr Nancy Swanson. Why not give the science teachers these references so they can make up their own mind on the subject of GMO safety.

    • I have a better idea. Why not let these anti-GMO organic scientists debate the pro-GMO scientists? Are they afraid to enter into open debate?

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        This has been offered before….I am sure none of us are afraid to open debate.

  • ed

    All food produced on earth previous to the chemical era would have been considered organic for the most part by today’s standards. To say that organic farming would benefit is sort of obvious but is the same as saying organic farming is regaining what was stolen from it and that in itself makes it not really helpful in this for the most part, non-debatable debate. Humans are by their nature always going to be concerned about their health. They are always looking for the Silver Bullet of health, the contents of Pandora’s Box or the Fountain of Youth. Billions of dollars of advertising by the chemically and sales driven Big Pharmacy industry has reinforced this behavior so it is no accident that many are now looking and turning back to man’s more health conscious super conventional-conventional ways of producing food. We may need a few more good people to produce it, but that too is a good thing.

    • Farming has been progressing technologically for thousands of years. All that happened when the organic industry was born was that organic activists drew an arbitrary line and said, “Any technology that came after this date shall be rejected.”

      Had the organic industry been born 200 years ago instead of 100 years ago, the plow would have been considered just as objectionable as Roundup.

      Nothing has been stolen. Moving forward works in every other area of the modern economy. Why wouldn’t we keep moving forward in farming… even in organic farming?

  • April Reeves

    I believe the science is pretty easy to explain; either you’ve done long term health studies or you haven’t. Either they’re safe or they’re not. You can either release the results or you won’t, and therein lies the problem and why you have SO many anti GMO activists and boycotting. Of course, patenting of seeds is not very negotiable when only a few very large and wealthy corporations are grabbing it up. The contamination and cross pollination of the native seed might cause some stir as well. And then there’s chemicals, especially those that were banned years ago but for some reason they’re okay for us now. I don’t think I would be questioning the anti side as much as the corporate side, personally….

    • But why did organic activists wait 20 years to express concern about GMOs April?

      By the way, there is no such thing as contamination of a non-GMO or organic crop by GMOs. Just so you know. That’s why there isn’t a single case anywhere in the world where an organic farmer’s crop was de-certified after making contact with GMOs in some way.

      • Ian Forrester
        • And who paid the organic farmer’s legal bill? It was huge. And all the while, the organic certifying body had no business de-certifying that organic crop in the first place.

      • April Reeves

        I’ve been doing this work since the late 90’s when no one was listening. I was responsible for taking a large number of municipalities in BC GMO free, especially Richmond, who voted unanimously for the ban. I speak all over Alberta now about it.
        Corn can become contaminated: kernels are pollinated by wind. Separate kernels can become pollinated.

        • So YOU’RE the one distorting the free market and forcing local politicians to ban a field of science that 97% of Canadian farmers choose to adopt!

          • April Reeves

            I was the one with some level of vision before anyone else even began questioning this. I’ve watched many farmer friends die before the age of 50 from a number of cancers that were never in their family origins. We take regions into GE Free zones to wake people up to the patenting of seeds and life. I’m not as concerned about the health issues, but I am highly concerned about patents and seed control. Outside my farm canola grows all over the roadsides. Monsanto can’t even clean up their own mess. Monsanto is a company void of ethics and integrity. It’s only value is money. Follow the money.

          • Will you engage in open debate April?

            If so, please respond to me here in the comments section, as well as through my website: http://www.isitorganic.ca/for_expert_testimonial_consultations_and_interviews_contact_popoff_now

            If you are so sure of what you say, you must engage in open debate. Otherwise you are making decisions on behalf of others.

  • healthangel

    http://www.organicconnections.ca/index.php/speakers Many scientists and farmers will be speaking the truth about GMOs at this Conference in Regina on Nov 7&8– Even Dr Seralini.

  • ggroxie

    Fascinating premise: “High school science teachers, university professors & researchers are
    starting to realize that it is probably up to them to defend genetically
    modified crops & other modern innovations.”

    In contrast to that fascinating premise, here is Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist & one of America’s great thinkers: “Tell what’s true but…make clear all the information that is required
    for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind.” Feynman was
    very clear that controlling technology “is something not so scientific & is not something that the scientist knows so much about.”

    Labeling is not a science issue; scientific principles are not the
    determinants for labeling. Citizens have a right to know what’s in our
    food & how it was produced, & are demanding that the agricultural biotechnology industry, the current commercial controllers of this
    technology, be forced to adopt transparency & to compete in the free
    market as capitalism intends competition to be.

    • Hmm… let’s see…

      It’s true that no one has ever fallen ill from consuming GMOs.

      It’s true that Europe feeds GMO feed to it’s livestock, and has been doing so for over a decade.

      It’s true that wherever they’re given the choice, roughly 97% of farmers freely choose to grow GMO crops over all the alternatives… even in Europe!

      It’s true that only one industry has something to gain from vilifying GMOs: and that’d be the multibillion dollar organic industry.

      • ggroxie

        Is there a point in there somewhere?

        • Trust farmers ggroxie.

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            That’s right Mischa…..I’m talking to many of them.

          • How many?

  • Dee Nicholson

    I think Dr. Thierry Vrain, a former supporter of GMO tech, says it best in his letter of last week to our Health Minister:

    October 27, 2014

    To the Honorable Rona
    Ambrose, Minister of Health

    Re: herbicide pollution and GMO labeling

    Minister,

    Theconfusion about the safety of GMOs is quite simple
    to address.The only GMOs in our agriculture are Glyphosate Modified Organisms
    also known as RoundUp Ready crops and the only GMOs in our food supply are from
    those crops. RoundUp Ready crops are
    engineered to be sprayed with the herbicide RoundUp and this technology has
    become so successful that RoundUp has become a major pollutant (1). This chemical pollution is antibiotic, it
    impacts the microbiome, impairs CYP enzymes, and depletes food of essential
    mineral micronutrients. As a background
    paperfor the impact of this pollutionI offer my speaking notes to the American
    College of Nutrition conference last week in San Antonio(Texas). Most of the studies I cite were published in
    the last five years.

    Glyphosate is the active
    ingredient of the herbicide RoundUp, anew molecule createdin 1960by Stauffer
    Chemicals – a US company with a business of cleaning industrial pipes and
    boilers of mineral scales. The mineral
    deposits (same as in electric kettles) are called scales, and the pipe cleaning
    chemicals are called descaling agents.
    Glyphosate was patented in 1964 in the US as a powerful and very broad
    spectrum descaling agent (2). Meaning,
    it binds to metals indiscriminately and does a great job at “dissolving and
    preventing minerals from being reactive or bioavailable in solution”. When the descaling solution was disposed of
    in nature, it was obvious that itkilled plants.The chemical company Monsanto promptly
    bought the molecule, patented it as a herbicide in 1969, and got it commercialized
    in 1974 (3). This molecule is making
    historybecause glyphosate has become the most successful agricultural chemical in
    North and South Americawherever RR seeds are used. The farmers using this technologyget simpler
    and cheaper weed management and despite higher input bills and sometimes disappointing
    yields, and with weed resistancespreading fast, they adopted it in troves(4).

    The herbicide RoundUp had a
    completely novel chemistry for a herbicidein 1969. It was deemedto kill plants by bondingto only
    one protein enzyme in the chloroplasts. Enzymes
    are metalloproteins with a metal atom as a cofactor at the active site of the
    molecule. Bacteria and plants and fungi share
    a metalloproteincalled EPSPS for short and 5-Enol Pyruvyl Shikimate-3 Phosphate
    Synthase if you want to know what it does.
    It works with other metalloproteins to “make” building blocks of
    proteins, the aromatic amino acids.
    These molecules are also building blocks for a large number of aromatic
    molecules we call secondary compounds. Glyphosate
    binds tightly to the manganese atom at the centre of the EPSPS metalloprotein,so
    tightlythat the protein cannot move and do its work making aromatic amino acids. No protein
    synthesis means there is no metabolic work possible, a quick death for the plant,
    or the fungi or the bacteria.

    Because animals lack the
    shikimate pathway and because of its presumed mode of killing plants,
    glyphosate was pronounced innocuous to humans and registered as such in 1974 in
    the USA. Glyphosate has no acute toxicity, and at the time of registration in
    the US and Canada, nobodybothered to check for chronic effects. Considering the chemical properties of this
    pollution, one would expect long term chronic effects, equivalent to rickets, scurvy,
    or beriberi, for progressive lack of micronutrients. The animal feeding studies proving the safety
    of GMOs do not include testing for the safety of glyphosate. None of them mentions the residue levels of
    glyphosate in the feed.Meanwhile, afast growing series of independent studies in
    various countries published in the last 5 years have ascertained the impact of
    glyphosate on various cellular enzymes and organs of animals and of human
    cells.

    The first RoundUp Ready crops
    to be commercialized were soy and corn, released in 1996. Since then, a handful of RR crops have been
    adopted enthusiastically by farmers, particularly in North and South
    America. Today close to 500 million
    acresof soya and corn, and cotton, canola, and sugar beet, are engineered to be
    sprayed with RoundUp.About 40% of allRR
    crops are grown in the USA, most of the rest are grown in Brazil, Argentina,
    Canada, and a few other countries. RR crops arenow sprayed with close to two
    billion lbsof glyphosate every year, and so much of thatfinds its way into animal
    feed and processed food,that the EPA had to raise the legal residue limits last
    year to accommodate a new reality (5).

    Glyphosate is antibiotic, a
    powerful and broad spectrum antibiotic (6).
    The mode of kill is again alleged to be very selective. The glyphosate
    molecule impairs the functioning of the shikimate pathwayin bacteria in the
    same manner that it does in plants. Only one enzyme is affected in a pathway
    that animals do not possess. The antibiotic patent describes its effectiveness
    to kill bacteria at 1 ppm and this wasconfirmed last yearin Germany (7). At this point I usually spend a minute or
    two explaining why a low level antibiotic dietis not a good idea. I describe the recent interest of the medical
    field in a large joint research project involving many Universities to decipher
    the huge community of thousands of species of bacteria that call us home. The Human Microbiome project is the
    equivalent of the Human Genome project in its scope. We are vastly outnumbered, roughly ten to
    one – one hundred trillion bacterial cells call our lower intestine home. They are forever sending signaling molecules
    to each other and to all human organs, particularly the brain. All animals depend
    on their symbiosis with these bacteria, and humans are no exception. They are the teachers of our immune system,
    they make the neurotransmittersfor our brain, and have a strong connection to
    the heart and the whole digestive tract.
    They literally feed us all kinds of molecules that we require – we call
    them essential, like vitamins and such.
    They digest and recycle most of our food. Human organs rely on molecular
    signals from the microbiome for normal functioning, and as goes the microbiome
    so doesits human shell. A recent review
    of the medical literature on celiac and other diseases shows the link to
    imbalances of the microbiome that are fully explained by the antibiotic
    properties of glyphosate (8).

    We lack official data on
    residues of glyphosate in food or in water in Canada – no epidemiological
    studies of any kind have ever been done.
    All we have are the legal maximum residue limits now allowed by the EPA
    in RoundUp Ready foods, cereals 30 ppm, animal feed 100 ppm, soybean 120 ppm,
    and everything else in between (5). Here
    an inquisitive mind will ask whysuch a high residue limit for cereals when none
    of themare engineered to be sprayed with RoundUp. This is when you learn that RoundUpis sprayed
    on many non-engineeredcrops with the intent to kill them right before harvest. This is done to mature and dry the cropsquickly
    to make them easier and cheaper to harvest.
    The RoundUp herbicide has been used as a desiccant for the last 10 years.

    There is direct toxicity to
    animal cells because glyphosate binds to metals indiscriminately, and not just
    in plant cells. It binds to metals in
    solution andto metal co-factors at the centre of metalloproteins anywhere. For
    example glyphosate binds to the iron atom at the centre of a large family of protein
    enzymes called CYP. There are 57 different
    CYP enzymes in the human body, and approximately 20,000 in animals, plants,
    bacteria and fungi. The CYP enzymes are
    oxidizers, the first line of digestion and detoxification of most
    substrates. David Nelson writes in a
    review of the CYP enzymes: “The CYP enzymes of humans are essential for our
    normal physiology and failure of some of these enzymes results in serious
    illnesses (9).Samsel and Seneff have published a review of the impact of
    glyphosate on the CYP enzymes and the microbiome. They suggest that glyphosate’s suppression
    of CYP enzymes and its antibiotic effect on the human microbiome are involved
    in the etiology of the many chronic degenerative and inflammatory diseases that
    have grown to epidemic levels since the advent of the RoundUp Ready technology
    (10).

    Nancy Swanson has made public
    her statistical analyses of the US Centre for Disease Control’s statistics
    about the health status of America when placed next to the statistics of the US
    Department of Agriculture about the spread of RoundUp Ready soy and corn. Her
    correlation analyses show very high coefficient values suggesting strong links
    between glyphosate residues in RoundUp Ready food and chronic illnesses(11).

    Medical and chemical reviews
    and peer reviewed studies have explained the mode of action of glyphosate and
    its impact on many metalloproteins. Human cell studies have shown acute toxicity
    (12-15) and animal studies have shown chronic toxicity (16-21). Glyphosate bio-accumulates
    in the plants and in animals that eat the plants. It accumulates in the lungs, the heart,
    kidneys, intestine, liver, spleen, muscles, and bones … and chronically ill
    people have higher residues in their urine than healthy people.”(22)

    To conclude this presentation
    of the nutritional status of GMOs, I would say that crops sprayed with RoundUp,
    whether they are RoundUp Ready or not, contain residues of glyphosate, and thatfoods
    made fromthese crops are depleted of the minerals that are bound to the
    glyphosate molecules,and chronically toxic (23).

    Minister, your reassuring
    words have been quoted widely. “Currently,
    there is no… scientific evidence, that says genetically modified foods are
    unhealthy. It is impossible for us to mandate a label, because our labels have
    to be based on evidence that it is an unhealthy product for Canadians.”I hope you have found here the scientific evidence you
    require to act and that you join over 60 governments in the world who have
    found this evidence compelling enough in the past few years, to legislate some
    form of labeling or ban RoundUp Ready crops and the herbicide RoundUp.

    Respectfully,

    Dr. Thierry Vrain

    thierryv@telus.net

    Literature cited

    1 Battaglin W.A., Meyer M.T., Kuivila K.M., Dietze
    J.E. 2014. Glyphosate and its degradation product AMPA
    occur frequently and widely in US soils, surface water, groundwater, and
    precipitation. J. Amer. Water Res.
    Assoc. 50, 275-290.

    2 U.S. Patent 3,160,632 Stauffer Chemicals 1964

    3 US Patent 3,455,675
    Monsanto Chemicals 1969

    4 Fernandez-Cornejo J., Wechsler S.J., Livingston M. and Mitchell L. 2014. Genetically Engineered crops in the United
    States. USDA Economic Research Report No. (ERR-162) 60 pp.http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1282246/err162.pdf

    5 EPA 2013 MCL (US Environment Protection Agency legal Maximum
    Contaminant Levels).http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/pdfs/factsheets/soc/glyphosa.pdf

    6 U.S. Patent Number
    7,771,736 Monsanto Chemicals 2010.

    7 Shehata, A.A.,Schrödl, W., Aldin, A.A., Hafez, H.M. andKrüger, M. 2013. The effect of Glyphosate on potential
    pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota. Curr. Microbiol.
    66:350-358.

    8 Samsel, A. and Seneff, S.
    2013. Glyphosate, pathways to
    modern diseases II. Celiac sprue and
    gluten intolerance.Interdiscip. Toxicol. 6: 159-184

    9 Nelson, D. 2013. A world of
    cytochrome P450s. Philo. Transac. Royal Soc. London B 368 No 1612.

    10 Samsel, A. and Seneff, S.
    2013. Glyphosate’s suppression of cytochrome P450 enzymes and amino acid
    biosynthesis by the gut microbiome: pathways to modern diseases. Entropy 15:
    1416-1463.

    11 http://www.examiner.com/gmo-in-seattle/nancy-swanson

    12 Gasnier, C.,Dumont, C., Benachour, N., Clair, E., Chagnon, M.C. andSéralini, G.E.
    2009. Glyphosate-based herbicides are
    toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines.Toxicology 262:
    184-191.

    13 Benachour N. and Seralini, G.E.
    2009. Glyphosate induces apoptosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and
    placental cells. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 22: 97-105.

    14 Koller, V.G.,Fürhacker, M.,Nersesyan, A., Mišík, M., Eisenbauer, M. andKnasmueller, S. 2012. Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in
    human-derived buccal epithelial cells. Arch. Toxicol. 86: 805-813.

    15 Thongprakaisang, S.,Thiantanawat, A., Rangkadilok, N., Suriyo, T. andSatayavivad, J. 2013. Glyphosate induces
    human breast cancer cell growth via estrogen receptors. Food Chem. Toxicol. 59:
    129-136.

    16 Senapati ,T., Mukerjee, A.K. and Ghosh, A.R. 2009. Observations on
    the effect of glyphosate based herbicide on ultrastructure (SEM) and enzymatic
    activity in different regions of alimentary canal and gill of Channapunctatus
    (Bloch). J. Crop Weed 5: 236-245.

    17 Paganelli, A., Gnazzo, V., Acosta, H., López, S.L. and Carrasco, A.E. 2010. Glyphosate herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by
    impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 23:
    1586-1595.

    18 Vecchio, L.,Cisterna, B., Malatesta, M., Martin, T.E. andBiggiogera, M. 2004. Ultrastructural
    analysis of testes from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Eur. J. Histochem. 48:448-454.

    19 El-Shamei, Z.S.; Gab-Alla, A.A.; Shatta, A.A.; Moussa, E.A.; Rayan, A.M. 2012. Histopathological
    changes in some organs of male rats fed on genetically modified corn. J. Am. Sci. 8: 684-696.

    20 Séralini, G.E., Clair, E., Mesnage, R.,
    Gress, S., Defarge, N., Malatesta, M.,
    Hennequin, D. and de Vendômois, J.S.
    2014. Republished study: Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically
    modified maize. Environ. Sci. Eur. 26:14

    21 Clair. E, Mesnage, R.,Travert, C. andSéralini, G.É. 2012. A
    glyphosate-based herbicide induces necrosis and apoptosis in mature rat
    testicular cells in vitro, and testosterone decrease at lower levels. Toxicol. in Vitro 26:
    269-279.

    22 Kruger, M., Schledorn, P., Schrodl, W.,
    Hoppe, H.W., Lutz, W. and Shehata, A.A. 2014. Detection of glyphosate residues in animals and
    humans. Environ. & Anal. Toxicol. 4:2

    23 Zobiole, L.H., Kremer, R.J., de Oliveira,
    R.S. and Constantin, J. 2012.Glyphosate effects on photosynthesis, nutrient
    accumulation, and nodulation in glyphosate-resistant soybean. J. Plant Nutri. Soil Sci. 175: 319

    Go ahead now and try to argue with him, instead of postulating your own opinions based on Monsanto propaganda, emanating from WINNIPEG.

    • I’m confused. Why are you cutting and pasting someone’s letter to someone else? Why not just say what’s on your mind Dee?

      There is no confusion over GMO safety. Until activists can produce a single example of someone falling ill, we must conclude that after 20 years on the market, GMOs are completely safe.

      • ggroxie

        Let me rephrase that question, so you can answer it yourself. “Why are you posting a letter written by an authority in the field of soil biology & genetic engineering? Why not just state what’s on your mind, so that I can attack it as not being from an authoritative source?”

        There is enormous confusion over GMO safety, which is why this is such a hot issue right now. Until independently-funded/verified long-term studies are out there for peer review & consumer consideration, we cannot conclude that GMOs are perfectly safe. All we can say is that there is no definitive proof of harm, but that is a scientifically meaningless statement.

        • Please, folks, limit your comments to the issue/opinion, NOT the person sharing it.

          Everyone has the right to speak their opinion.

          Not obeying this basic and, I believe, not-too-onerous rule will result in your comment being edited or excluded altogether.

          Cheers,
          Paul – WP web editor

        • Dee Nicholson

          LOL! As I said, I’ll let Thierry Vrain speak my mind on GMO’s any time his little heart desires. He is an expert who used to support GMOs and has changed his mind, having seen ALL the evidence, and he is one scientist I know and respect. What he says IS on my mind. Yes, GGRoxie, I got that little twist…. and thanks for pointing it out! Sneaky, huh?

      • NoToGMOs

        “Until activists can produce a single example of someone falling ill”

        You don’t seem to be able to grasp the concept of chronic illnesses as opposed to acute illnesses. Saying that GMOs are safe because someone didn’t keel over and die right away after consuming them…..is too simplistic.

        • 20 years is plenty of time to prove a link to these chronic illnesses. But no one has.

          • NoToGMOs

            Because no one’s looking for them. Or have been allowed to look for them….due to lack of labeling. And anyone who does find a link is pounced upon and attacked by the biotech industry.

          • Europe has GMO labelling. Europe has it’s own cash, and LOADS of scientists. So why haven’t they proven any of the links between GMOs and ill-health that you’re assuming exist?

          • Sheryl McCumsey

            Any study that has been done on a patented product (which is difficult by the way due to those patents)…has been denounced by your industry. Any and all evidence is ignored by you and yours….including those who say it has personally made them ill.

          • Just because someone does a study it does not follow that anyone has to accept it. Denouncing a study is really just criticizing it. If it’s a solid study, it should stand up under scrutiny.

  • John Eberley

    GMO’s and “other modern innovations” are not in the same categories. GMO’s are not INNOVATIONS, they are a revolution and not an evolution. While it is true that the potential benefits from genetic engineering/modification are only limited by one’s imagination, our current level of scientific understanding is limited. This isn’t simply my opinion, the inability (or refusal) of pro-gmo science to DOCUMENT 1) initial safety, 2) long term safety and 3) an ability to understand, identify and control ‘down stream’ outcomes is evidence enough. The potential of life changing advancements is tempered only by the potential for life altering outcomes. It is not up to teachers, students and researchers to “defend” the biotech industry – they must defend themselves through real science. The marketing term ‘substantial equivalence’ does not replace the scientific or ethical need for the precautionary principle.

    • Sheryl McCumsey

      Yes, substantial equivalence means these products do not need to be tested….and patents do not make sense unless you want control….and cross-contamination results in law-suits…ask any farmer who does not grow a GMO how much pressure comes from this industry and I am not talking about organic. I don’t think our scientific understanding is that limited in understanding there is a problem. Genetic engineering should still be in a laboratory. The problem is unless something is making money no one wants to fund it anymore. Our government has systematically reduced the ability of independent science to exist. Without that you do not have the ability to gain “real” knowledge.

    • Our understanding of science has always been limited. That’s why we pursue science John: to push the limits of our understanding! Yeesh.

      It’s as if you’re saying, “Well, we never had light bulbs before, so let’s reject them until we understand them better.” Thankfully, your line of reasoning was never in play 100 years ago when Thomas Edison and Nicolai Tesla were around.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        Yeesh….like PCB’s, Agent Orange (used in Canada for 30 years), Thalidomide…. ridiculous comparisons.

        • So, you’re saying science is bad? Just forget pushing the limits of our understanding?

  • osoyoosguy

    Poisons on food and in food, who would have thought that this was complicated?

  • Terry

    Does anyone remember the lawsuit brought against Monsanto by organic farmers? It was due to the fact that organic farmers lost canola as a crop in their rotation because roundup ready and liberty link canola is nonvisually distinguishable. Does the general public know what this term pertains to? Yes the Supreme Court shot down the lawsuit but at least it put the gmo issue at the forefront. What else doesn t the public know? That roundup is actually being sprayed as a desiccant (an unregistered use, under the guise of “in crop weed control”)

    Until recently biotech and genetic scientists have dismissed organic farming, oh yes and lest I forget Misha Popoff , contrarian extraordinaire. Now, it seems suddenly we are a problem. I say GOOD! The use of the GMO tech drives down price for primary producers through over production, the railway was unable to move 2013 s massive crop. Oh yes we need to feed the world, understood. But that has been proven over and over that that is a distribution problem and not a production problem. It is a race to the bottom. Primary producers are the bottom of the barrel, price takers and science would not have any traits to develop if primary producers didn t accept the “science ” put forward by companies trying to sell the farmers something.Science funding comes down from private enterprise and in turn has head hunted today’s best and brightest to spout the company line and has taken control of our public universities. One would hope that an esteemed institution like a university would teach common sense, but you know what they say about common sense… It’s not that common.

    My take is that organic and sustainable method farming just isn t as profitable for others than the primary producers so it would become a race to the bottom for researchers , chemical companies and also universities. This is something they are unwilling to enter but it is expected of the primary producer in this day and age. If we put fuel price for our cars and driving our children to hockey ahead of food production ahead of fuel for our bodies then we have a definitely skewed sense of what is important.
    At least the dialogue has begun and the restoration of balance has begun. If the big Ag and chem companies see organic as a problem and are so contrarian it is just the kind of publicity organic farming needs. We are a viable threat ( or at least beginning to be perceived as one)
    Common sense is not science but science is a part of common sense. Balance in nature is common sense if we keep on diverting attention away from what really needs to be done we are wasting valuable time, energy and resources .

  • Dayton
  • ed

    Chemically laced crack cocaine like GMO’s it could be argued is a technological move forward compared to weed or weed’s which ever the case may be. Chemically laced nicotine enhanced cigarettes, same thing. If the pushers of these produces constantly remove all other choices from the market place you could make statements like “97 percent of users choose these product of their own free will”, or “opponents to these harmful drugs are only trying to vilify the makers, pushers and profiteers of them”, or they even may say “these products are deemed safe for our children and study after study has never shown any ill effects”. Most people know otherwise, but these elements in society can get so rich and powerful that they are very intimidating and hard to control or police.

  • ggroxie

    Re claims that GMOs are completely safe – There
    are no long-term studies to back up the industry claim that there are
    no adverse health effects in people from our eating GMOs since the
    1990s, completely overlooking the anecdotal evidence that the health of
    Americans & Canadians has been declining, not improving. We weigh
    more & have more co-morbid conditions than ever before. In fact, a
    recent Journal of the American Medical Association article states that
    we spend a fortune on health in the US, more than any other
    industrialized nation, yet we have “fallen behind peer countries in
    terms of improvements in population health”. While you can’t say this is
    because of GMOs, you can’t say it’s not.

    • You’ll be sad to learn that there are no long-term studies proving organic food is safe either. None.
      Sorry.

      • Sheryl McCumsey

        I happen to know that the switch to organic has done much more than improved health. I know of someone who was losing a child due to this…and switched to organic and lived. She was just a baby and the doctors could not understand what was wrong….they took her home and feed her organic food. She is just fine now… some of us KNOW. It has to do with the gut…the normal gut flora and how it is affected by a herbicide that is actually registered as an antibiotic.

        • Right… and what about the BILLIONS of people who consume GMOs every day with no ill-effect? Should we just take your story as the final word and ignore the rest of the world?

  • Dayton

    Really starting to notice the gender gap in this argument. Very few females who are in most cases the nurturers of children and purchase the food agree with GMO’s. The opposition to Organic and pro GMO campaign is mostly compiled of investors and old white men who stand to lose ground due to labeling. Interesting…

    • richard

      Yeah interesting and ironic…..Not one of the GMO apologists here, fulminating about feeding the world, would dare suggest that labelling their products would tell the world of the “superiority” of their idea??? Now thats confidence……..

      • I never defend GMOs on the basis that they’ll feed the world.

        Every other sector of the economy gets to advance technologically without explaining how it will help the planet. Farmers should be able to likewise advance technologically purely for the sake of being more efficient.

        What’s wrong with efficiency Richard?

        • richard

          Efficiency has become a relative ideological term….. Whats wrong with labelling the new superior product?…..Its marketing 101…. The self evident superiority of GMO ingredients will have consumers clamouring for the products…..and organic food will find its place as a foot note in history…..and all the GMO missionaries will become redundant….oops?

          • GMOs are not a “new superior product.” Genetic engineering is a PROCESS by which crops are bred. And we have never labelled crop breeding processes before. There’s no reason to. We label foods that might be dangerous in some way, and GMOs are perfectly safe.

          • richard

            Pleasssse……Its a process by which seeds are engineered and controlled and there is no precedent in history…..And we label foods because people demand to know whats in them….. No amount of sophistry and ag bio tech hubris is going to change this fact….. Twenty years of food safety incompetence has forced transparency into the system…. and the gene jockeys and their heelers have completely miscalculated public resistance to being told whats good for them by those who are solely motivated by whats good for themselves……

          • We have never labeled foods because people demand to know whats in them. Food safety is not a popularity contest. If it was, there’d be no organic labelling.

  • richard

    People here with an inquiring mind would be well advised to read John Brunner’s “The Sheep Look Up”……arguably the most prescient piece of speculative fiction ever written and thankfully reprinted recently just in time to watch itself unfold in real time……It is a dystopian future where corporations, government and agriculture have run amuck in an insidious, incestuous collusion of utter venality…..and the foodstream and human health are the victims…..Sound familiar?

    • Yes, this sounds very familiar. It sounds like the types of societies dictators like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Castro envisioned right after they rounded up all the capitalists and shot them.

      I’ll take a greedy capitalist any day over a greedy Marxist with a gun.

  • Dayton

    We all know the term “Organic” and it’s philosophy sells itself. GMO’s not so much. That’s why they won’t label it. But they are trying to get everyone who is connected to GMO’s to do the dirty work for them including the recruitment of a handful of farm wives. Too bad they are the minority in this argument.

    • If “organic” sells itself, why are we still subsidizing it Dayton?

      • Dayton

        Do you have a receipt to prove your claim? Or you just making things up as we go?

        • Making up the fact that the organic industry is subsidized? Are you serious?

  • Dayton

    I like the example of a school teacher walking into class wearing a gas mask and backpack sprayer. She goes to the front where there are 2 baskets of apples. She then sprays one basket of apples but doesn’t spray the other one. Then asks the students to choose an apple from one of the baskets.

    • I like the story of the two apples sitting on a table. One has recently been sprayed and is non-GMO. The other is a GMO apple which has not been sprayed. Which one do you choose Dayton?

      • Dayton

        The orange.

      • Dayton

        Before I chose the orange I should have asked if the GMO apple was labelled?

        • So, you admit you’re prefer the apple without pesticides.

          • Dayton

            Can’t really make a decision until I see a label. Will you label each apple?

          • I’ll help you out my friend. Which do you prefer? The apple that COULD be GMO, or the apple that HAS BEEN sprayed.

    • hyperzombie

      Depends what she was spraying, was it the Organic fertilizer commonly called liquid “pig [feces] – ed“,or copper sulphate an Organic fungicide…..

  • The growth of these “slow insidious illnesses” coincides with the passing of the National Organic Program.

    • April Reeves

      Again, please answer my comments and questions directly.

      • All right April. You asked “Why does a corporation/industry have to fight for their products?” Well… I have news for you.

        ALL corporations and industries have to fight for their products. It’s called marketing, and often involves advertising. You know, like the organic industry for instance. They’re always promoting their wares while ATTACKING biotech foods.

        At least you and I aren’t forced to subsidize Monsanto when they promote their products.

        Go figure.

  • soiled

    Pure ignorance and our failing education system are to blame for people/industry that are willing to take an absolute position on GMO safety even though we have just begun to understand the genetics of our guts, animals and insects. The long-term effects of GMOs have just started to be researched.(Factor GMO). The current industry-led science ignores that we are 90% bacteria (like plants) and only 10% human cells. Big Ag research ignores this and only observes our cells reactions to Roundup/Glysophates. Well… like plants, our stomach bacteria, needed to process our nutrients, is disrupted. All the new gut (Microbiome) science that is being mapped, realizes the important pathways our flora is to our whole health.

    Obvious to most… BUT… the industry and it’s huge supply chain have a lot to lose. So there are many reason for them to be employing the social engineering that has created this culture war.

    The industry continue to discredit multi-disciplinarian thinkers (Bill Nye, Seneff, Shiva, etc.) that are looking at the broader genetics of our ecosystems and understand the most influential science in our current food system… POLITICAL.

    Big Ag is spending millions paying politicians and other mouthpieces (Mark Lynas) to read a teleprompter and to change their minds about GMOs. Read these leaked documents outlining the plan (w/script) years before Mark Lynas made his public charade in the EU. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2011/oct/20/gm-food

    And we need all this for what? For higher yields, profits and papayas without spots? We have a surplus of GMOs and the much of the world does not want their economies destroyed by our smut imports?

    Have we not learned from history? There have been many times in the history of science where correlation is causation. Rachel Carson’s correlation on Monsanto’s DDT in the 60s had scientists calling her a crackpot. How could Nobel prize winning science be wrong everyone asked?!?!? It takes mavericks like Nye and Seneff that are looking at broader systems through correlation because science is not available to give us causation.

    I’m going to look at our current health crisis, trust my gut, and eat organic.

    Excerpt from wiki on Correlation as Scientific Evidence: “Since it may be difficult or ethically impossible to run controlled double-blind studies, correlational evidence from several different angles may be the strongest causal evidence available.[20] The combination of limited available methodologies with the dismissing correlation fallacy has on occasion been used to counter a scientific finding. For example, the tobacco industry has historically relied on a dismissal of correlational evidence to reject a link between tobacco and lung cancer.[21]”

    • If we have really just begun to understand the genetics of our guts, then where are all the cases of illness resulting from our ignorance?

    • Canadian_Skeptic

      “The current industry-led science ignores that we are 90% bacteria (like plants) and only 10% human cells.”
      >>No, that’s not accurate. 90% of your mass does not come from bacteria. Where did you get these numbers?

      Can you provide even a single example of a reliable study that demonstrates any inherent risk of GMOs?