Biotech industry files for bankruptcy

Note: This is re-write and update from a 2013 post.

Bankruptcy_monopoly

Days after a group of 107 Nobel Laureates published a letter telling Greenpeace to knock it off with their anti-GMO nonsense, the biotechnology industry filed for bankruptcy, citing their misguided buying everybody off, scheme .

At a hastily called press conference, industry representative and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, told assembled reporters

I mean, do you know how many people are in the Nation Academy of Sciences alone? Something like 2,000. So, a few million to a scientific body here and a few million to every independent scientist in the world there, and it begins to add up.” That’s not even including  having to pay those thousands of keyboard jockeys who defend us on internet comment boards. The straw that broke the financial camel’s back were the Nobel laureates. Those bastards didn’t come cheap.”

Anti-gmo activists were left slack-jawed. “We just lost our boogeyman,” one activist lamented. “It’s not fair.”

Asked what was next for the bankrupt industry, Executive VP and CTO, Rob Fraley said it was too early to tell, but excitedly suggested they were thinking of getting into the organic farming business.  “Man, do you know what a cash cow that racket is? I was in Whole Foods the other day and they get like 4 bucks for a freakin’ tomato. Sweet. We’ve gotta get in on that action.”

Hours after the announcement, Organic Consumer’s Association honcho Ronnie Cummins and GM Watch honchette, Claire Robinson had to be talked down off a Maharishi University rooftop after Jeffrey Smith pleaded with them saying, “Cmon guys. We can still make stuff up about beneficial technology.”

In a related story, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she planned to retire from the Court and buy the Bronx.

The “But Johnny does it” argument of GMO labeling

I’ve written about this before, but since it has been brought up by my candidate Bernie Sanders, I think it is time to revisit it.

sandersgmBecause other countries do something means we should do it is a stupid argument, plain and simple. The response to this is the age-old mother’s retort, If Johnny jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it too?

Let’s look at what other countries do.  Should we follow their lead?

79 countries have laws against homosexuality. Source

127 countries don’t have laws against marital rape. Source

66 countries either ban abortion totally or only allow it to save the life of the mother.  Source

 

These two are really rich. Are they serious?

He also thinks they should be protected from gays and Pussy Riot

thailandcoup1

Support for a military coup?  Police and military arrest and threaten critics of the ruling junta, including student activists. Public demonstrations are banned. Press freedom restricted.

And as much as I hate to go Godwin, here’s a picture of Himmler at his organic farm near Dachau. Where’s the GMOFreeUSA meme?

himmlerflowers

These antis are either really, really stupid, nuts, or both.

 

Is Chipotle anti-GMO’s worst nightmare?

Earlier this month I wrote this: mainstream media has been casting a much more skeptical eye and various lefty/green writers have either changed their minds or at least taking less strident anti stances and are willing to be a little more open-minded. 

Then came Chipotle’s major announcement of their decision to jettison GMO “ingredients.” All of a sudden, the cracks in the dam widened. The media jumped all over Chipotle. Here a few examples:

The GMO worm seems to be turning, slowly, but still changing direction. When sites like Gizmodo weigh in, something’s happening.

What’s good about it is that it may have an effect on the average Joe and Josefina, who only hear the loudest and the nuttiest .

 

 

Vermont inducted into the Scientifically Illiterate Hall of Shame plus more dumbass

Our latest inductee to the Scientifically Illiterate Hall of Shame is the Vermont legislature for their overwhelming vote to require labeling foods containing GMO “ingredients.”

In addition to that, two Vermont elected officials get the first Golden Scientific Dumbass Award for sponsoring  the law. The first award is shared and it goes to… State Senator David Zuckerman and State Representative Carolyn Partridge.

Why? Because they are in league with our favorite floater, Jeffrey Smith. I was alerted to a video by a friend on Twitter where Smith interviews, via Skype, his two buddies.

In the video, Smith tells Zuckerman that he “totally remembers” staying “on your living room floor” when he visited in 2003. He also mentions how he testified at an Agricultural Committee hearings on the issue.

Zuckerman also talks about going to an Agricultural summit and meeting with biotech lobbyists who “shook their heads” knowing they were “behind the eight ball from all three of our work” (sic) Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket.

And this Zuckerman douche smugly says that those who voted against the law felt the need to explain why they voted against it as if it was some negative thing… having to explain your reasoning.

The sad thing is I probably agree with Doucherman  Zuckerman and Partridge 99.9% on other issues. Still, if i had the time and wherewithal to go Vermont I would go there and kick that idiot in the nuts. Yeah, I’m mad. I’m mad because that ponytailed hippie is a member of the Progressive Party

I haven’t gotten through the 25+minutes of the video but I will post it here for you to judge for yourself.

 

Connecticut becomes the first scientifically illiterate state

double-facepalmsmThe State of Connecticut has become the first state in the nation to be inducted into the Progressive Contrarian’s Scientifically Illiterate Hall of Shame.

The scientifically illiterate Connecticut legislature passed a mandatory GMO labeling law earlier this year and a smiling scientifically clueless governor, Dannel P. Malloy, made an appearance at a local raw foods cafe in Fairfield on Wednesday to do a ceremonial signing of the GMO labeling law.

Despite every major scientific and medical organization agreeing to the safety of GM foods, the legislature and Governor happily agreed with the scientifically illiterate activists. The one good thing in all of this is that in order for the law to take effect, four Northeast states with populations of at least 20 million must adopt similar laws.

In a statement that should qualify him for his own inclusion into the Hall, Malloy said, in a press release

“I also want to be clear: This law does not ban anything. It requires the labeling of food products that have been modified with genetic engineering and do not occur naturally.”  (my emphasis)

When the legislature held hearings on the issues last year they didn’t have one scientist testify. They did have anti-gmo clown Jeffrey Smith testify.  I wrote to the task force to suggest they withdraw their invitation or at least involve real scientists. As I wrote in a post  in June

Last year, I wrote the Connecticut legislature’s GMO Labeling Task Force suggesting they have an actual scientist testify as a counterbalance to Smith’s nonsense. From my email:

I just read that Jeffrey Smith, of the Institute of Responsible Technology will be speaking before your GMO Labeling Task Force on August 8th. I would recommend you rescind this offer as Mr. Smith is a self-styled expert on GMOs. He has no experience in science or agriculture. For some reason he is considered an expert by the media and others.

If this is not possible, I suggest you at least have actual scientists testify on this issue to counterbalance his nonsense.

I received a polite reply from Elaine O’Brien who wrote

“my intention is to gather as much information as possible. I understand that this is not a simple subject and I do not believe we should be rushing to label before we understand the issue”.

What bullshit. They didn’t have any scientists testify and not only that, a member of the legislature even coached an activist on her testimony. I just came across this little nugget on ctpost.com

 Tara Cook-Littman… last year found herself being coached on testifying about GMO foods before the General Assembly by state Rep. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield.

So, for their willful scientific illiteracy, we induct the State of Connecticut into the Hall of Shame.

 

Food Democracy and Earth Open Source: Anti-GMO punks

Last week I followed a little exchange on the Twitter between Biofortified’s Anastasia Bodnar and some punk from the anti-gmo activist group Food Democracy who Bodnar identified as Dave Murphy, the founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!

It all started innocently enough. Bodnar had watched a Kickstarter promo for a documentary The:SEED: The Untold Story. She thought it looked liked a cool doc, but questioned why they included Jeffrey Smith since he didn’t  have any seed saving expertise.

 

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That’s when Murphy responded to her tweet making accusations against her.

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In her Storify post which I suggest you read before reading any further, Bodnar explains she is very open that she’s works for the USDA and is very upfront that her personal Twitter account are own words and not those of her employer, yet this punk was trying to make stir up some controversy where none exists in an attempt to discredit her and get her into trouble with her employer.

She responded by saying

I’m not sure why Dave would think I was speaking for the USDA, since my Twitter profile (and every other social media profile that I have) has a clear disclaimer. So I just pointed out my disclaimer and clarified I wasn’t attacking Jeffery Smith.

I only know Anastasia in a digital sense. In all my interactions with her she has been nothing but the nicest person. In fact, I think my rough and tumble approach to this issue makes her wince, because it’s not her style. Basically, she’s nice and doesn’t want to offend and I’m a longshoreman who’s spoiling for a fight. That’s why I think that Murphy is a punk. Anti-gmo people know who she is, including Nancy Murphy. She doesn’t need me to defend her, she can do that very well on her own, but I feel I need to weigh in.

To make a long story short, if you read her account it looked like he was trying to get her in trouble with her employer by cc:ing  their conversation to the USDA twitter account.

They’re ideological jackals who see niceness and a knowledgeable and reasonable approach to this issue as a weakness.

When Bodnar’s partner at Biofortified, Karl Haro von Mogel, a made up name if there ever was one, came to her defense and suggested Murphy come by Biofortified for a discussion, there were CRICKETS. No response.

And then another punk group, Earth Open Source weighed in

bodnar-clip3It was at this point that I wanted to go longshoreman on these punks. They’re nasty little pricks and really do need to have their asses kicked in person. But I doubt they would have the guts to say such things to Bodnar’s face. They don’t have the science on their side so they go after people and try to discredit them.

But, getting back to Karl’s invitation. It makes sense that Nancy Murphy ignored his invitation to a discussion. That’s the M.O. of the anti-gmo groups. They’re scared of  going toe-to-toe with those who really know their stuff.

Look at what happened earlier this year when floater Jeffrey Smith and the litigious Whiplash Seralini were slated to appear at a CATO Institute debate. As long as they knew it was Karl and Anastasia, they were in. The minute Anastasia had to bow out and was replaced by Kevin Folta, they both cancelled and ran away like scared little girls.

These punks, frauds and charlatans can’t stand the heat and that’s why I am calling them out. If they are so sure of their nonsense, I want them to agree to an online public debate on Google Hangouts with Karl, Kevin and Anastasia, if they are willing. I am calling out Dave “Nancy” Murphy, a representative from Earth Open Source and Claire Robinson from GMWatch to engage in a public, real-time discussion on Google.

We’ll schedule it for sometime in February 2014. That should give me enough time to figure out the Hangout thing. I’ll host and moderate, unless someone else wants to do it.

I don’t think it will happen. These punks don’t have the balls to engage in real time in a public forum.

NY State Assembly public hearing on GMO labeling was a farce.

This is a tough one. I’m not sure where to begin. I attended a show trial NY State Assembly public hearing on gmo labeling last Tuesday which was held at Lehman College in the Bronx. It was chock full of lies, bullying, nonsense and a pretend sense of balance. Basically it was a 3/12 hour farce disguised as a public hearing.

The public hearing was convened by Assembly member Linda Rosenthal who sponsored a bill that would require all foods sold in NY that contain genetically modified ingredients to carry a label.

Although Rosenthal touted the hearing as “hearing from both sides,” it was obvious that she didn’t mean it. Her demeanor was more self-righteous bully. She acted more like an anti-gmo activist than an elected representative looking for facts. She told the NY Daily News in an email

“I am confident that after a comprehensive public airing, where both sides have an opportunity to provide testimony, the case for labeling of GMO-containing food products will be categorically made.”

 

Hansen & Rosenthal in pre-hearing "rally"

Hansen & Rosenthal in pre-hearing “rally”

 

She spouted all the anti-gmo nonsense which included citing discredited studies. What makes it even worse is she is the Chairperson of the Assembly’s Commission on Science and Technology. Why is that bad? She’s scientifically illiterate, at least on this issue. If you are going to chair a science committee, it would behoove you to understand something about how the science works, especially before you sponsor legislation that is based on scientifically unsound information.

One of the issues she kept raising was the idea that gmos create “new allergens” which is a bold-faced lie.

She and other antis brought up the Brazil nut example which if anything, actually proved their claim wasn’t true.

The story is this: The company Pioneer tried to insert a Brazil nut gene into soybeans. They selected a protein that wasn’t allergenic. To be on the safe side, they asked allergists to test it just to make sure. It was found that the allergen transferred over. So, they abandoned the project. 

She also kept harping on the idea that there is no “concrete proof” gmos are safe. Well, as chair of a science committee she should know that nothing can be proven “concretely” safe. And if she actually cared about whether they are deemed safe, or as safe as anything can be, maybe she should consult the hundreds of independent studies that exist out there. Even better, actually consult scientists.

While grilling three upstate farmers she really went bullygirl actually disagreeing with the farmers about their experiences with gmos. She read otherwise, she claimed, dismissing their actual experience. One of the farmers, Beth Chittenden of Dutch Hollow Farm seemed to get the bulk of her bullying.

She accused the farmers of making disparaging remarks about consumers when they suggested labeling might confuse them in thinking there was something wrong with the product. She said that the reason to be against labeling is because they (the farmers) might be afraid of what we might find out.  She also said what they were saying was… “reprehensible is too strong of a word…objectionable”

Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket. What an asshole. These weren’t industry bigwigs, they were upstate family farmers trying to explain why they used gmos; their own experiences.

During those exchanges, the packed anti-gmo crowd showed their true colors when they heckled Chittenden. Some shouted, “Bullshit.” It was at that point the chair of the hearing admonished them and basically told them to act civilized and listen to what people had to say. But that’s not what they were there for. They were there to make public their incredible lack of brain power apparent. I decided to not engage any of them since you can’t have a rational discussion with true believers.

It was becoming clear this wasn’t a legislative hearing, but a chance for Rosenthal to denigrate the opposition.

She allowed the pro-labeling witnesses to spout all kinds of discredited nonsense without an inkling of challenge they way she challenged the opposition.

Pro-labeling folks like Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union got plenty of time to lie and obfuscate. Throughout his questioning by the panel, he kept contradicting himself at one point saying that gmos aren’t ingredients and then later saying they were. He made some absurd statement that Bt, the soil bacteria used widely in organic farming somehow “bleeds from the roots to poison the soil.”

Now these witnesses were sworn in and testified under oath. I wonder if it would be possible to bring Hansen up on perjury charges?

Of course the industry was represented. Louis Finkel VP for Government Affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Michael Rosen, VP of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State held their own against hard questioning. They were pros. Nurse Ratchet kept asking them about how much money was spent lobbying.  She wouldn’t leave that alone. She also kept whining how she wasn’t getting a satisfactory answer.  You have to have a begrudging admiration for guys like these two. As hard as she tried to knock them off their game, they never wavered.

Anyway, what the hell does how much money the industry spends lobbying have to do with the issue of gmo labeling?

So, who were some of those other guys? Guys like Hansen, who never met a GMO fact he liked. Hanson, did his best Sean Hannity impression, flogging the discredited Seralini corn rat study, one the many studies he said were “carefully well designed studies.”

There were others like reps from the usual suspects likes Patty Lovera from Food and Water Watch and Andrew Kimbrell from the Center for Food and Safety and Stacey Orel from GMO Free New York.

I would have left half way through had it not been for the fact that a Twitter acquaintance was scheduled to speak toward the end, Val Giddings.  The incredibly tall Giddings came out of the box and ticked off a list of false claims made by the previous pro-labeling witnesses. Rosenthal seemed to be unimpressed since this was what she was doing while Giddings was speaking

While guys like Hansen and Kimbrell got a lot of time in the form of questions. When Giddings finished his testimony, he was given a polite, dismissive, thank you.

Actually, it would be unfair to dismiss this hearing as all one-sided. The biggest offender was Rosenthal, but the chairman, Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz and James Skouflis asked some good questions and actually seemed interested in hearing the anti-side.

At one point Skouflis scolded…damn I can’t find it in my notes, one of the pro-labeling witnesses who trashed farmers. Skouflis responded by saying he took offense at their depictions of farmers; that many of his constituents were farmers and they were good, decent hardworking people. Yay, James.

On a side note: Trashing farmers seems to be common on the anti side. What’s up with that? They depict farmers as greedy people who don’t care about the environment or people’s health. On one hand they claim farmers are being exploited by companies like Monsanto and when farmers respond by saying, “No we’re not,”  they counter that they’re greedy poisoners.

But lest you go away thinking Rosenthal is some shrieking harpy, she does have a good record on progressive issues. That’s the disconnect on this issue with the liberal/left. They seem to throw reasoning out the window. Rosenthal is a classic example of this.

On a final giggity note, Dinowitz pressed Kimbrell that if labeling incurred no onerous cost, why not require labeling of conventional/non foods? Kimbrell said he would be against that. “Why? Dinowitz pressed. If there is no “onerous cost”, “Why not? Dinowitz knocked him off his game.

Connecticut legislature makes anti-science history

Today’s post is a version of an op-ed that was quickly and roundly rejected by the Hartford Courant with a curt,  No Thanks, response.

courant

The Connecticut legislature made history recently when it overwhelmingly approved a gmo labeling bill. They made history by giving credibility to the anti-science views of crackpots, frauds, and charlatans.

In 2012, the Assembly’s GM labeling task force had one Jeffrey Smith testify.  Readers of this blog are well acquainted with him. He is the go-to-guy and is considered an “expert” on gmos. Unfortunately he is not a scientist and has no agricultural experience. He is considered a joke among the scientific community.

His bio and resume are vague. What is known is he was a member of the Maharishi Natural Law Party in Iowa, whose solution to the national crime problem was “yogic flying.”

In 1996, the Daily Illinni wrote, “Smith presented charts with evidence of a correlation between the presence of yogic flyers and an increase in the quality of life and a decrease in crime. Smith cited limited yogic flying programs in Washington D.C. and near the Middle East that resulted in less crime and more harmony.” 

He has two self-published books on genetic engineering.  One of them, Genetic Roulette has been discredited by real scientists. The organization, Academics Review, looked at the book to see how his claims stacked up against current peer-reviewed science and submitted a chapter by chapter take down of the book.

Smith recently backed out of a debate on the safety of gmos at the Cato Institute where he would have had to defend his nonsense against actual scientists. Those scientists are Karl Von Mogel and Kevin Folta. Von Mogel is a Ph.D. candidate in plant breeding and plant genetics at the University of Wisconsin who co-founded the science site Biofortified.  Folta is Interim Chairman and Associate Professor Horticultural Sciences Department at the  University of Florida and writes the blog Illumination. 

Last year, I wrote the Connecticut legislature’s GMO Labeling Task Force suggesting they have an actual scientist testify as a counterbalance to Smith’s nonsense. From my email:

I just read that Jeffrey Smith, of the Institute of Responsible Technology will be speaking before your GMO Labeling Task Force on August 8th. I would recommend you rescind this offer as Mr. Smith is a self-styled expert on GMOs. He has no experience in science or agriculture. For some reason he is considered an expert by the media and others.

If this is not possible, I suggest you at least have actual scientists testify on this issue to counterbalance his nonsense.

I received a polite reply from Elaine O’Brien who wrote

 “my intention is to gather as much information as possible. I understand that this is not a simple subject and I do not believe we should be rushing to label before we understand the issue”.

It seems they didn’t take my advice and consult any real scientists and listened only to a minority of vocal activists who peddled discredited studies and lies.

Every major health and scientific organization have weighed in on the safety of genetically modified foods. The safety is not in question.

Humans have been genetically modifying foods for thousands of years. Activist claim GM is different. Yes, it is. It is more precise.

With conventional breeding it is a hit and miss method. With conventional breeding they transfer thousands of genes, hoping they will get what they want. With GM, scientists only transfer the gene(s) that they need.

Activists point to the 64 countries that have laws requiring labeling as a talking point. Well, 74 countries have laws against homosexuality. Should we follow their lead?

The legislature should be ashamed of themselves.

Is Himalayan “non-gmo” pink salt radioactive?

Now this is rich. If there was any doubt as to why we think the anti-gmo crowd is head shakingly stupid, here is a classic example. A company called Himalania is selling Himalayan Pink Salt as a non-gmo certified product. That’s right, non-gmo salt.  Kudos to Shea Gunther for his mnn.com column, Facepalm of the week: Non-GMO salt!?  for bringing it to our attention.

non-gmo-rock-salt_sm

The twittersphere was all giggly at this nonsense and mad scientist Kevin Folta weighed in on his Illumination blog,

Here’s how we know that science is dead in the anti-GMO movement.  The Non-GMO Project and their crack scientific team has verified, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that salt is not a transgenic plant.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad and so true. On their website, Himalania touts the salt as being mineral rich, containing such helpful minerals as magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. They go on to say the salt is pure and hasn’t been “exposed to any modern chemicals, toxins or radiation sources.”

Sounds great? Well, what else does it contain? A visit to the site saltnews.com has a chemical breakdown of all  the natural elements in this purest of pure salts. Among those are fluoride, arsenic, lead, plutonium, uranium, and polonium.

Huh. Some of those things sound kind of radioactive, especially that polonium one. Wasn’t that what assassins used to kill this guy, Viktor Yushchenko?

uke

Or maybe he wasn’t assassinated but was eating Himalayan Pink Salt?

And it has fluoride? Isn’t there some hippie movement to tale fluoride out of our water supplies?

I noticed the list included lead, which has been shown to affect IQ. Maybe all these natural folks consuming pink salt may have had their IQ compromised by the lead in the salt?

No, of course not. These trace amounts aren’t harmful to humans. As they say, the dose makes the poison. Imagine if any of the elements were in gmo foods?  The frightened anti-gmo villagers would be jumping and hollering and pointing… “Look! Look! Poisons!”

Oh and this is choice. The company wrote in the comment section on Gunther’s piece,

… we are demonstrating our support for this meaningful cause, and advocating that we do care about our consumer’s health concerns. Not all consumers are as educated on this topic, and for some it is primordial and comforting to have the NON GMO Verified seal on the products they intend to purchase.

Allow me to translate. “Our customers are idiots.” How in God’s name is placing a non-gmo label on a product that can’t be gmo be educating people?

“…we do care about our consumer’s health concerns.”

Really? Then how about a label that warns people who are 51 years of age or older, are African American, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease to limit their salt intake? (source CDC.)

Ah, here it is, “We are committed to clean labeling and standing behind the Himalania brand, as being a part of the NON-GMO Verified eco-system is more than just adding a 1” x 1.5” logo on our products – It is a state of mind…”

A state of mind? There you have it. Their stance is not based on science, but a state of mind. 

But maybe we should err on the side of caution. After all, the FDA has been bought off by big business, so those safe levels may be all wrong and could very well be harmful. That’s why Himalayan Pink Salt should be not only labeled non-gmo, it should have another label, prominently displayed on the  front of the package saying. “This product may be radioactive.”