12 thoughts on “Potholer54 on genetically modified foods

  1. Who in the heck is this supreme masteress? I want to follow her blog!!! She would leave such interesting comments. Do you know if she is on wordpress? Can you recruit her, or is this against the rules? Don’t answer this. I didn’t even know Austin Powers worked for monsanto. I need to read more news and less blogs I guess. The other guy, well he needs some pepping up, he talks exactly like my husband regarding his biostatistics research.

  2. OK, finally had a chance to watch. Hmm, starts with an utter cheap shot. Eh.

    Well, “most GMOs have nothing to do with pesticides and herbicides at all.” Counted how? By modification quantity or by acreage covered? Those give quite different pictures. Measured by acreage covered, GMOs have a whole lot to do with pesticides and herbicides. Just ask the monarchs (no no, not Sir Phil’s squeeze, the butterflies).

    And Greenpeace gets a very liberal coating of guilt by association. They’re worried about possible unanticipated health effects from an insufficiently regulated industry (and fair enough IMO), but note their website contains no claim that eating GMOs is harmful. What it does contain, mostly, is advocacy for organic, non-industrial agriculture combined with a reformed distribution system that will actually feed people.

    1. I think the criticism of Greenpeace’s stance with regards to GM foods is more because it is taking an absolutist approach. The link you provided to their website goes to a page which says “No to GMOs”. I agree that there are problems associated with an unregulated industry but I don’t agree to a blanket ban. There are some cases where it makes sense to allow GM foods and golden rice is a case in point. See A clear case for golden rice.

      1. Equating Greenpeace to Heartland and calling them equally extremist just isn’t reasonable, although it is reflexively centrist.
        .
        There are other views on GMO rice, including some key issues Singer didn’t address. Principle among them are the impact of widespread golden rice utilization on rice biodiversity and that diets too heavily dependent on rice have other deficiencies for which broader solutions (e.g., as Greenpeace advocates, organic gardens) are needed.

        I wanted to point up in particular this claim by Singer:

        “Critics have suggested that golden rice is part of the biotech industry’s plans to dominate agriculture worldwide. But, although the agribusiness giant Syngenta did assist in developing the genetically modified rice, the company has stated that it is not planning to commercialize it. Low-income farmers will own their seeds and be able to retain seed from their harvests.

        “Indeed, Syngenta has given the right to sublicense the rice to a nonprofit organization called the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board. The board, which includes the two co-inventors, has the right to provide the rice to public research institutions and low-income farmers in developing countries for humanitarian use, as long as it does not charge more for it than the price for ordinary rice seeds.”

        So totally selfless, right? Er, not so much. I really hate it when people like Singer who ought to know better fail to do basic homework. But as with Potholer54’s opener, succumbing to the Patrick Moore cheap shot was a bad sign.

        FYI I don’t focus on the GMO issue, although I personally avoid them as much as I can (but not because I think it’s unsafe to eat them).

        So OK, I’ve devoted 45 minutes to looking up the basics on this and will call an end to it since, while today may be Valentine’s Day for some, for me it’s stuck atmospheric wave research day. Not really suitable for a holiday, although lots of people here in northern California do seem to be enjoying the mid-70F highs and cloudless skies during what should be the chilly peak of our rainy season.

      2. So totally selfless, right? Er, not so much. I really hate it when people like Singer who ought to know better fail to do basic homework.

        Doesn’t the link you provided support what Peter Singer has said? It says:

        Syngenta, and the inventors entered into contractual arrangements whereby Syngenta licensed back to the inventors the combined package of enabling intellectual property and agreed to support them administratively in their endeavour to make the technology available to resource-poor farmers in developing countries, free of charge. Terms of use include royalty-free local production by farmers who earn less than US$10,000 annually, which applies so to say to 99% of the target farming community. The inventors were also granted the rights to grant sub-licences for the same purpose.

      3. The specific assertion that appears to be in conflict with the evidence is “the company has stated that it is not planning to commercialize it.” TBC I think there are other problems with the article, but I highlighted just the one issue because I didn’t want to devote the time needed for a top-to-bottom fisking.

      4. Yet something else, this one not about GMOs as such but illustrative of the extent to which industry funding has played a role in nutritional research generally.

  3. I don’t suspect Peter Singer of Potholer54 of being involved in any such campaign, but even so this article (“Big Ag’s Fight for Twitter Credibility”) is interesting. I don’t recall the fossil fuel industry making a similar effort, although possibly that’s because they have enough willing volunteers spreading their propaganda.

  4. Possibly no one will see this late comment, but I wanted to point up this more or less thorough overview of GMOs by ecologist Jonathan Foley, until recently director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota and currently director of the California Academy of Sciences.

    1. I read his article and it hasn’t changed my view on GMOs which is that they’re safe to eat. However I agree that spraying bucket-loads of pesticides on crops is not a good idea but this is not really an argument against all GM foods, rather it’s an argument against the use of pesticides or perhaps even against the use of GM foods that encourage pesticide use. I’m just not going to adopt a blanket ban approach to GM foods because I think they have the potential to be useful as in the Golden Rice example. And his argument that there are other solutions just doesn’t really hold up. It’s the same argument climate change “Skeptics” use when they say we should be spending money to alleviate poverty rather than reducing our carbon emissions. Yes, we should be working to eliminate poverty and yes we should do other things that might help reduce malnutrition in developing countries too. But this doesn’t mean golden rice can’t or shouldn’t play a part.

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