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Month: June 2014

Anti-GMO goes bananas

Anti-GMO goes bananas

The latest nonsense emanating from the Anti camp is this from our friends at GMOFreeUSA. The stupidity is astounding.

Wait. Aren’t these the same folks who have been screaming there have been no studies of GMOs and their effect on humans?

Anti-GMO: No testing of safety on humans!

GMO banana: Okay. Human testing.

Anti-GMO: OMG! Testing on humans!

Well, then. Let’s have a look-see at the text that accompanied this idiotic image

“GMO proponents claim that they can modify foods to be more nutritious. Just after their flagship GMO Golden Rice, which was supposed to provide enough vitamin A to save poor children in Asia, failed miserably in field trials…”

Bzzz. Sorry, thanks for playing but it didn’t fail. As a matter of fact it was successful. What is holding it up is the anti-GMO NGOS. This study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition begs to differ.

Now there has been some controversy surrounding this trial. Greenpeace raised holy Hell, saying the parents of the children involved didn’t give informed consent. The ethical  breach of the researchers and whether it is true or not is an argument for another time. If they crossed ethical lines, I can’t defend that, but the bottom line is the trial was successful.

“This orange GMO banana, which is being developed in Australia and grown in Uganda, has NOT been subjected to any animal testing for toxicity…”

I don’t know if that is true or not, but I doubt it. Normal procedure is to test on animals before moving on to human trials. “Human trial is a significant milestone for this project which started in 2005 and should see pro-vitamin A-enriched banana varieties being grown by Ugandan farmers around 2020,” Professor James Dale said in a statement to QUT.

Dr Helen Wallace, of GeneWatch, said: “There is evidence that too much beta-carotene can be cancerous so what happens when people who are not vitamin A deficient eat this crop?

Good question, if you’re not a dumbass doctor who should know better. Does Wallace actually believe the people who developed this GM banana didn’t take that into consideration?  Let’s look at the toxicity issue. There is slim to none

For the most part, too much Vitamin A can be harmful, if you eat 3 lbs of carrots a day. Your skin will turn orange.

Bananas weigh in like this: 25 micrograms of carotenoids in every gram of the GM banana. The average banana is 120 grams. 

Cancer? Yes and no. Megadoses of Vitamin in in supplements have shown to increase risk in smokers and those who have worked with asbestos. The levels in the GM banana are nowhere near that level.

Here is a 2011 study published in the African Journal of Biotechnology,  that addresses the Vitamin A issue in Uganda.

There are more effective solutions to these issues such as targeted supplements and diversification of crops.

More idiocy. Supplements are a well and good but again, according to the World Health Organization, it is only a temporary solution. “…supplementation capsules lasts only 4-6 months, they are only initial steps towards ensuring better overall nutrition and not long-term solutions” and“Food fortification (my emphasis) takes over where supplementation leaves off. “

Diversification of crops? What if they are in a region that isn’t good for growing crops that can provide suitable level of Vitamin A?  That statement shows a complete ignorance of agriculture.

These trials have no way of establishing whether these changes are beneficial rather than harmful in the long-term.”

Whether it’s beneficial in the long-term? I don’t even know how to respond to that. No one knows whether it will or it won’t, but in the meantime, real harm is happening to hundreds of thousands of children. Will it be harmful? No. That is such a stupid thing to say. It’s the mindset of well fed, liberal affluent, Westerner.

The point is, the people who developed this did it for all the right reasons and it wasn’t funded by Monsatan.

The $10 million project has been funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This leads us to ask… will Bill & Melinda Gates be the first to sign up for human feeding trials? We think they should. What do you think?

Again, these dipshits are always complaining about no human tests and now that there will be they are whinging about testing on humans? Imbeciles. Is it some bizarro, experimental ingredient they are wanting to test? No, it’s Vitamin A.  They don’t want to test for danger, (my assumption) but to see if it works.

I wonder if these people eat any food that says, “Fortified with Vitamin XYZ?”

Oh, and the idea of experimental being a bad thing? How do these morons think we make progress? I really think these people are unhinged.

If there are more effective solutions, why aren’t these activist groups using their war chests to make those solutions happen; show how their more effective solutions can work?  They won’t because they know they won’t work. If they really cared, they would use their money to help people, rather than denigrate the work of people who are actually trying to solve problems and help people.

My father was a pain in my ass, but a great guy.

My father was a pain in my ass, but a great guy.

barneyatwarI just accidentally came across this in one of my folders that I don’t remember writing. Apparently I wrote in 2010 and didn’t post it. So, as it’s Fathers Day…

The old man was a pain in the ass. You couldn’t get away with anything. I always wanted the dad that would cry, “Not my son!” when you got into trouble. I got the, “That sounds like something he would do,” dad. He was too smart. But he is the reason I’m in NYC today. When I was a kid, he and mom would bring me to NYC. I loved it and decided one day that I would live here.

In 1970, when I was 13 years old, I went away to camp in upstate New York. I made friends with a chubby little nerdy, Jewish kid from NYC who was always picked on. I always hated those who preyed on the different and the weak. It was anathema to me. Being different myself, in a different way, I was very aware of the damage it can cause. I would tell the bullies to back off when they would pick on him.

Anyway, I liked him and he invited me to come to NYC and hang around and do stuff. Now here comes one of the reasons, my old man was great. He allowed me to get on a bus alone in Pennsylvania and take the two-hour bus ride to New York to meet this kid. He figured, yeah it’s dangerous, it was 1970, but since this kid was an NYC kid, he knew his stuff. He also trusted me.

We hit all the arcades in Times Square, ate at Tad’s and had a grand old-time. I never did make it to the Village, but that was fine. I was on my own in NYC.

The sad thing is that I can’t remember that kid’s name. He gave me a yarmulke from his bar mitzvah and I know it’s somewhere.

Then, in 1971, I failed to get tickets to the Mothers at the Fillmore in June. I did manage to get tix to Edgar Winter’s White Trash and Ten Years After at Gaelic Park in June. He wanted to come. Oh, man, my dad wanted to come to the show? Yikes. How embarrassing.

So, he drives my two friends and I into NYC and we spend the night at the Times Square Hotel. Seedy, but acceptable.

We get to Gaelic Park and I’m bummed since there is so much pot and I can’t smoke any.

It had rained earlier in the day and the ground was still damp. My dad, took off his wingtip shoes and sat on them to avoid getting wet. The other kids around us were curious as to why that old man was there. One guy asked if he was reviewing it for The Times.

.He explained he brought his kid and friends to the show. They thought that was the coolest thing. He became the most popular guy. One stoned kid said, “I know you’re probably not into grass, but we have beer. You want a beer?” He declined, but the kid gave him one anyway, just in case; a Rheingold which we surreptitiously drank behind his back. Yeah, not so much. He knew.

One totally stoned guy tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You know, man, you’re the first person I’ve ever seen sitting on a pair of wingtip shoes.”

It was at that show that I realized how cool my square dad was. He wanted to experience the culture his kid was into. He wasn’t into it, he just wanted to know. That show changed his mind about the so-called counterculture. He realized that they were just kids doing their thing.

It also wised him up about me. He kept a tight rein on me throughout my teens. I was not allowed out during the school week and only until 11 on weekends. We fought. If I wasn’t home ten minutes after curfew, he came looking for me. And in a small town that was easy.

There’s more I can say positively about the old man. But they’re just isn’t the space. Like the time he found my quarter pound of pot.

Later in 1971 year he took me to see Zappa at Carnegie Hall, on a school night.

My father was a great guy. I didn’t realize it at the time. He wasn’t hip and he wasn’t square. He was open.

In my twenties I went home and asked him about how I might not be living up to his expectations. He told me that financial success wasn’t the be all and end all. It was the fact that I had my own life and friends and I was making it, albeit barely, in a city like New York.

Side note: When I was broke and didn’t have an apartment in the late 1990s, I would go home fairly often. I never went home. Only at Christmas. The old man was no dope. While my mom was glad to have me coming home more often, he was wise to the scam.

We were sitting alone in the kitchen one day, talking, when he said to me, “You don’t have a place to live, do you?” I denied it and he said, “C’mon. You never come home. You hate it.” I had to come clean.

He then told me that I was welcome anytime, but to not tell my mom.

When I visited him in the hospital in his final days, his doctor asked me to issue a DNR order. I thought it should be my mom’s call. He said no, my dad said he wanted me to make the decision when it came time.

My old man gave the power to kill him. He wanted me to make that decision. It was an easy decision to make. All the decades of fighting meant nothing at that point. If there was any doubt that my father loved and respected me, that was it. He trusted me to do the right thing; the thing he wanted and knew I would do.

Of course I miss him, but what I miss most is that he always kept me honest. He was the Republican Contrarian. He was conservative, but didn’t buy into the dogma. He said you have to think for yourself and not blindly follow. He taught to question the validity of my beliefs.

He was a republican, politically. But he was more of a human being. He was actually more open than many of my lefty compatriots, despite the arguments.

One time when we were in a knock down drag out about some political issue, my mom weighed in and asked us not to hate each other. The old man looked and her and said, “We’re just having a discussion.”

 

 

The Anti-GMO movement is big fan of autocratic countries

The Anti-GMO movement is big fan of autocratic countries

UPDATE: This is an update of a post I did on 6/13/2014. I felt it needed to be said again, since I just found another authoritarian country the antis love, Gambia.

Since the Anti-GMO movement doesn’t have the facts or real science their side, they hitch their wagon to anybody or anything that promotes their cause no matter how illegitimate. When they’re not doing that they’re making shit up.

Their latest nonsense is favoriting countries with less than stellar democratic leanings who are banning GMOs. Here’s GMOFREEUSA’s latest hero country

thailandcoup1

Seriously? They are celebrating a military coup because they champion organic farming? Time Magazine had this to say about the coup

Since seizing power, Thailand’s military has crushed all forms of dissent, imposed a nightly curfew and imposed severe curbs on civil liberties, and taken over all government departments.

Hey! They like Russia and Putin, too.

And of course, what list be be complete without China?

Again, seriously? Have they not been paying attention to rash of real poisonous food scandals? From Atlantic Magazine, It Will Be Hard to Beat China’s Latest Food Contamination Scandal

The Telegraph has this handy little list Top 10 Chinese Food Scandals

But, NO GMOs!

Could there be a more imbecilic movement than the Anti-GMO movement? Well, the anti-vaccine movement, but then again, many Antis belong to that movement as well.

 

UPDATE: Friend of the blog mem_somerville alerted me to the fact that Syria also banned GMOs. I found this

syria

 

Gambia is the latest fave rave of the antis. The President of Gambia has reportedly said he will “slit the throats” of homosexuals and “no white person can do anything about it”. This March, the EU cut aid to Gambia due to human rights violations. A report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has found evidence of significant human rights violations in Gambia.  See article here

 

 

 

 

 

Fish genes in my tomato? Dumbass.

Fish genes in my tomato? Dumbass.

You hear this nonsense over and over. They’re putting genes from unrelated species into GMOs. This very idea shows how ignorant the anti-gmo activists are when it comes to science and DNA. What this post is about is that you don’t have to be a squint to understand the science.

I’m not a scientist and I’ll admit that before I started learning about GMOs I would have thought the same thing. Fish genes in my tomato? Yikes.

Then, when I started learning about GMOs, I started learning about DNA.  I still only have a basic knowledge of both sciences, but I have learned enough that I now know that it is not some freaky experimental science. These guys and gal squints know what they’re doing. They understand the mechanisms of how it all works. I also found out that genes are genes.

I found out that we humans share quite a few genes with other species.  Speaking of tomatoes; we share 70% DNA. Bananas? 60%

That’s what makes the unrelated species argument silly.

Another nonsensical idea is that for some reason, gene transfer in the lab is somehow more sinister and wrong than “traditional breeding.”

This is what I learned. In traditional breeding, thousands of genes get transferred, willy nilly. You don’t know what you’re going to get. It may take years until you find out whether it works or not. With GM they transfer only the gene(s) they need. Then they work to make sure it works like they want it to. They test for all kinds of unintended consequences. You can’t do that with traditional breeding. You have to wait years to see if you get want you want. How is that worse than conventional breeding?

The allergen nonsense? Yeah, they test for those as well. Think about it. With GM they will be able to eliminate the allergens in peanuts and wheat.

I used to be a technophobe and then I was introduced to the computer in 1982. A friend showed me how it was a great thing for writing. It allowed you to do all things you couldn’t do before. You could cut and paste and move things around and get it just the way you wanted it.

On a related level, that’s what’s happened in the world of genetics.

I still write things on paper. In fact, I do it using a pencil. I love pencils. And that’s the point. No one method is great. It’s whatever works.

GM has its place, It can be a positive; a helpful tool.

 

Five versions of New York City

Five versions of New York City

This is off topic, but it’s something that is near and dear to my heart. So,what the hell?  Back in the day, many of us in the hinterlands dreamed of moving to NYC. It was a romantized vision, but a true one. We had this idea we could leave it all behind and not so much re-invent ourselves, but become a part of what was NEW YORK CITY!  These days people come to NYC wanting to bring the crap they grew up with here, and they have won.

Luckily for me, I caught the tail end of that NYC I came to live in and be a part of. The Sinatra song, New York, New York which is a classic and cliched, was written in 1979 for Scorese’s film. But the song, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Fred Ebb, really summed it up nicely.

Back in 2009, when I had my Examiner column,  I wrote that NYC was as dead as the Dodo.

The dodo lived on the island of Mauritius, free of natural predators.  Then European sailors came, bringing with them rats, pigs and other predators.  Within 50 years the dodo was extinct.  New York City is fast becoming like the dodo.  Real estate predators, like the rats and pigs of Mauritius are destroying the history of New York faster than the predators decimated the Dodo.  Huge, grotesque, expensive monstrosities are replacing the physical memories and neighborhoods of New York.  National chains are replacing the neighborhood joints.

It’s been said that New York reinvents itself every 20 years.  I’ve found this to be true, but it used to be that New York reinvented itself within the context of itself.  It is now changing in the context of the rest of the country.  It is ceasing to be an original.  It’s becoming a suburb.

In that vein, here are some songs from the different eras of New York.

Manhattan: Richard Rodgers and the words by Lorenz Hart for the 1925 revue “Garrick Gaieties”

 

New York, New York from  On the Town music by Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Lovin’ Spoonful: The 1960s and some images of some other places.

Now we have our Al Kooper from the early 70s, less happy.

It gets depressing with Lou Reed in the 80’s, but’s still New York

 

We have no 1990’s, or 2000’s culture. We no longer have any NYC culture. Due to the Giuliani and Bloomberg decades, NYC will never be the heart of new culture and individualism. It will be and is, the culture of money. And that is sad.

Organickers/Anti-GMO and pesticides: Fear vs. reality

Organickers/Anti-GMO and pesticides: Fear vs. reality

One of the biggest whines of the Organickers and Antis, (besides take me to Portland)  is how GMO and conventional farming douses, drenches, drowns, their crops in pesticides. And like all their other imaginary facts, this one is imaginary as well; like the idea that organic farming uses no toxic pesticides

A recent post on the Genetic Literacy Project website by an actual real life farmer,  sets the record straight. He shows how they don’t drench or douse their crops in pesticides.

Does GMOFreeUSA actually think we load up big tankers of herbicide and drown our crops with the stuff? First, they don’t understand the meaning of the word drown; second, to really drench a crop we would have to use one of those big tanker airplanes they use to fight forest fires. The video in this link, for example, would qualify as a drenching, probably not a drowning. Sorry, that simply is not what we do on a modern farm.

In fact, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You can read the post here: Myth: GM farmers “drown” crops in “dangerous” glyphosate. Fact: Farmers use eye droppers

Here’s the bottom line

So next time you’re at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks picking up an extra large of your favorite coffee, that’s approximately the amount of herbicide we spread on a football field sized area of a field.

And while we’re on the subject, I came across this website, thegreengok. It is a site written by Bill Chameides and a part of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. 

He cites some interesting statistics regarding pesticide use in a post called Statistically Speaking: Lawns by the Numbers

If what he writes is correct, the Organickers and Antis should be going after their lawn owning neighbors and not farmers. What was one of his statistics?

Ratio of pesticide use per acre by the average homeowner versus the average farmer: 10 to 1

Ouch!

Here are some others

  • Percent that include possible carcinogens: 53%
  • Percent that pose a threat to the environment, including water supplies, aquatic organisms, and non-targeted insects: 100%

Another bit of pesticide nonsense is the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen.”  Here’s a great analysis by Steve Savage. How Wrong Is The Latest Dirty Dozen List?

I really wish my tribe would look at facts and evidence rather than nonsense. An even bigger wish, I wish my tribe would believe in science, not just the science which fits their worldview

Monanto shill = intellectually bankrupt.

Monanto shill = intellectually bankrupt.

It used to be “Monsanto Shill”was an exclusive club. Now it seems that anyone who doesn’t see GMOs as the worst thing to happen since Justin Bieber are on the payroll.

It’s really an intellectually bankrupt accusation. Just go to any comment board, including this one and you see it. I did a quick search in quote for “Monsanto shill” and got 14,000 results. Then you have the gumbo variations such as “Do you or [insert name here] work for Monsanto?”

It’s really sad because this is my tribe. They can’t respond with a cogent argument.

I’ve been taken to task by people who say, “Well it’s worst on the right.” It may very well be, but the fact it exists at all on the left is embarrassing.

A recent piece on Politico, written by Tara Haelle, who is described as a freelance science journalist sums it up very succinctly. The title of the piece hits the nail on the head: Democrats Have a Problem With Science, Too. We shouldn’t let them off the hook just because Republicans are worse.”

It is a well written piece and touches not just on the GMO issue but evolution and vaccines.

She hits the nail on the head when she writes

But such cries of false equivalence miss the point. The issue isn’t whether the Democrats are anti-science enough to match the anti-science lunacy of Republicans. The point is that any science denialism exists on the left at all. If there is grime in my bathroom and grime in my kitchen, I don’t stand there and contemplate which one has more filth; my house won’t be clean until I have scoured both.

I feel less like a pig in the wilderness after reading that. She continues

As one of those who claims science denialism is more egregious among Republicans than among Democrats, the journalist Chris Mooney has argued that the small amount of anti-science views found on the left does not drive policy. But digging a little deeper reveals plenty of bills that ignore the scientific consensus. Sure, they are mostly at the state level. But then, so are the Republicans’ bills pushing creationism into schools.

Now, this is why I hate Haelle, because  I didn’t think of that. 

It’s a good piece and you should check it out. But don’t read the comment section. The majority of the comments have nothing to do with the content and point of the article.

 

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