A “Better” Crop

MonsantoCover
So the conversations about the dangerous impacts of climate change have just taken a new and more dramatic turn. In recent experiments where crops were grown in open fields with estimated future CO2 levels, researchers showed that zinc, iron, and protein levels in wheat and rice crops are likely to be reduced by up to 10%.

10% doesn’t sound like a huge impact, but keep in mind that an estimated one-third of the planet already suffers from zinc and iron shortages. Dr. Samuel Myers from the Harvard School of Public Health stated, “We found that close to 2 billion people are getting at least 70% of their iron and zinc from these grains and legumes. So reductions in those crops are potentially quite worrisome in terms of increasing those deficiencies.” He went on to say, “It is possibly the most significant health threat that has been documented for climate change. We found significant reductions in iron, zinc, and protein in rice and wheat, and we found significant reductions in iron and zinc in soybeans and field peas as well.”

So I guess the good news is that we don’t have to wait for the super storms or blistering temperatures to get us. We can just wither away slowly from food that no longer supports any nutritional value! As I read this report, the only thing I could think was “Gee, I bet the guys at Monsanto are partying like rock stars over this. “

If you don’t know who Monsanto is, they are the evil geniuses responsible for the majority of the seed used for commercial farming. Now, assuming you’re not reading this from underneath a rock, you’ve heard the term GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and their overwhelming negative impact on the world.

In the farming world, an example of a Monsanto GMO would be a corn plant that is genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides. That way, when you spray for weeds, you kill everything but the corn plant. It’s not at all a coincidence that Monsanto’s other main product line is Roundup – which is an herbicide. So basically, they make your vegetables resistant to their poison so they can spray it with their poison. Then they feed them to you without a label or any other warning to let you know that what you are eating wasn’t created by nature, but was dreamed up in a lab full of guys in white coats who took a break from counting their money to poison you.

The idea of “genetically modified” crops just baffles me. I’m no historian, but hasn’t farming been around for thousands of years? I’m pretty sure that if you hopped in your nearest time machine and went back a couple hundred years, you’d find that a genetics lab wasn’t part of your local cabbage farm. You know who else was obsessed with genetic modification? Nazis.

Yes, I just said that.

GMO crops have absolutely no benefit to humans. In fact, they are harmful to just about everything they touch. They cross-pollinate other “non-GMO” crops. They create “super strains” of plant disease. They are even modifying the genetic make-up of the bugs that feed on the plants, as they become resistant to the pesticides that the plants are resistant to, evolving them into science fictionesque superbugs.

So what is the solution to the GMO epidemic? Let’s ask Norman Borlaug, or as he is affectionately known: “the man who saved a billion lives”. Norman developed a strain of high-yield, disease resistant wheat which won him, among other things, a Nobel Peace Prize. Oh, wait – we can’t ask him because he is dead. He’s dead because he was born in 1914 and revolutionized the farming world in the 40’s and 50’s. Pretty sure he didn’t do it with a gene sequencer, either. He took what nature had given us, applied a little bit of genius, and changed the world.

Look, It’s simple: Look for that little “organic” label on your produce. GMO’s will not have a label, because who wants to advertise something toxic? But naturally grown foods will always have a label letting you know that your fares are as natural as the planet intended them to be. I’m in no way suggesting that everyone needs a bean patch in their backyards, but a little awareness in the grocery store goes a long way.

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Comments

  1. So with the crops you mentioned: wheat, rice, peas, and soybeans, only soybeans are GMO. How is Monsanto partying like rock stars? You’ve failed to make the connection to how GMO crops are reducing those nutrient levels in those crops. GMO crops are certainly not contributing to climate change any more than organic. In fact with the use of GM crops, farmers are going to no-till and using cover crops. So with those two cultural practices less pesticide is being used, less tillage which means less erosion and healthier soils, more carbon is being sequestered with the cover crops and with the main crop. All of this means less fuel is being used by the farmer and less resources are being diminished.

    Seems like this is a rail against GMO and not about how to increase nutrient levels in food with elevated levels of CO2 in the climate

    1. First and foremost, thank you for the comment…

      Now…First off I never said that GMO’s were responsible for the lack of nutrition or the CO2 levels. The lack of nutrition in crops is FROM the raised levels of CO2 from pollution and other factors. I was implying that the Monsanto guys now have a new cause to create some new super seed to boost the nutritional value of the food, instead of the planet addressing the CO2 issue. Did you know that the CO2 levels on Earth are almost as high right now as when the dinosaurs were around?

      I Digress…

      GMO crops literally offer nothing to the planet. Sure, they may be using less volume of herbicides, but they are having to use increasingly STRONGER herbicides because of the adaptability of the weeds and funguses that plague normal plants. Those chemicals destroy the soil over time, and leave fields un-plantable. Factor in water run-off, and it’s a real poo sandwich.

      I challenge you to read more about Norman Borlaug, and how he went about using basic science to completely revolutionize the growing of wheat. The GMO craze is one that in my opinion, isn’t necessary. There is a ton of research out there that supports that theory…

      All of the being said, I barely scratched the surface of what GMO based foods do to the human body; organ damage, hormone imbalance, chemical deficiencies, etc. I guess we could solve the fertilizer issue by using the bodies of the people that die from these complications.

      Okay, maybe that’s a little drastic…

      1. Justin,

        You don’t farm do you? Do you really want farmers to go back to the STRONGER pesticides that you claim we’re using now? Those weeds that have evolved to resisting RoundUp were already a problem before RR crops came into being. Farmers were told to use differing modes of action to combat them. It didn’t always happen and yes some weeds have spread and are causing problems. Cover crops are competing with those weeds and other pesticides can kill those resistant weeds. Tillage helps but it tends to bury the weed seed in the soil profile and those pesky things come back up, so that’s not as great of an option.

        Pesticides destroying the soil health… hmmm. wouldn’t we be out of crops by now if that were true? Sure we use fertilizers including manure, but not to the degree that the general public thinks. Fertilizers aren’t cheap and neither is pesticide. Soil sampling along with GPS technology is putting fertilizers and other amendments into fields at smaller rates than ever before. Split applications of fertilizers is also making sure the crops are getting those nutrients at the right time too. Leaf testing is a great way to see what the crop needs.

        And what studies that are peer reviewed have shown there are problems with the eating of GM crops? I haven’t seen one yet that is credible. And please don’t use the Seralini or Seneff studies. Those have been thoroughly debunked and the Seralini study was actually retracted it was so badly done.

        There is also a ton of research that says GMO crops will be necessary to feed a growing population especially in marginally poor areas such as Asia and Africa.

        Oh and here’s something you can read in the mean time:

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-08/new-study-makes-it-harder-for-activists-to-be-against-everything-all-the-time.html

        1. Hi Jodi,

          I like an educated comment, I also like that you seem to know more than your average Post Grad on the subject, good to have you here.

          Yes, I would like to see us go back to the good old days. Not only did Norman Borlaug solve the very issues you are referring to, he also saved millions upon millions of people from starving to death and he did it without GMO.

          I personally think your argument about feeding the world with GMO crops is a little narrow, I think perhaps when they start using it for say chickens you may find it a little harder to swallow, not to mention catch when they make a 4 legged version.

          Myopia is a dangerous thing, and making a practice acceptable solely because it suits your particular cause is great, right up to the time your little boy grows nice boobs.

          Aaron

        2. You are correct, I am not a farmer. I have a vegetable garden that resulted from my love of homemade pickles, and I don’t use anything even remotely toxic. If you are a farmer, and GMO seeds are your thing, who am I to tell you what to do? I’ll stick to organics.

          1. Good for you! And I mean that in all seriousness!Glad you love doing that. And there is a place in our society for organics. Good work!

          2. well thank you. It started with cucumbers, and has grown into all the peppers, and herbs I use. My homemade pickles are literally 100% home grown.

          3. Assuming you love pickles it may scare you to know that the ingredients for said are, infact, more toxic than roundup.

            The toxicity of acetic acid is 3.31g/kg in rats, the toxicity of glyphosate… 4.3g/kg in rats, the toxicity of 3g/kg.

            So the ingredients you likely use for making homemade pickles – categorically proven to be more toxic than glyphosate.

            And yet… completely safe. Odd that, it’s almost as if toxicity is dose dependant and one need not be concerned about toxins when they aren’t actually toxic.

          4. Now Justin, you told me this guy didn’t wear a white coat….

            I gotta get him to one of our parties, he’ll just light up the room.

            Just having some fun with you Ewan, we love it when commenters poke back, especially at Justin.

            Aaron

          5. True story. When people aren’t taking jabs at me on here, I get it from everyone else in the office. It’s a damn shame when being a big scary tattooed bearded man can’t keep people from picking on you.

          6. Google requires no white coat… (’tis where I got my toxicity data from, had I gone and actually done the science myself the comment would have taken a little longer to formulate)

          7. So I should make my pickles with roundup? that doesn’t sound too appealing…

            Do you have a chipotle flavored roundup?

          8. Chipotle is all GM free now so…

            /bdum tish.

            But no, you should totally make your pickles with whatever you use. Just because something isn’t toxic doesn’t mean it is delicious.

          9. I’ve gleaned this far because I have a staunch opinion on the topic, and I always enjoy everything you write; if I agree with you or not, you are always entertaining and this thread takes the cake – at Vodka I officially lost it and doubled over
            laughing. You are a writing genius with a gift for hovering over serious stuff and not taking it so serious it ruins anyone’s day. Your responders here are obviously more seriously grounded in their opposing views and it’s making your absolute talent shine brightly. Thank you for your genius and the best laugh I’ve had in days, KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK! For the record I
            share Jodi, Cheryl, & 2girls’ viewpoint. We’ll never convince the Ewan’s of the world how ridiculous they sound toting the benefits of poisons, but I am truly grateful I’m not the only one on my team anymore, trying to make people realize what is at stake. More power to you, man, you certainly hit a nerve with this one!

          10. first and foremost, thank you so much for the compliments. I really do try to inject style and humor into everything I write. If you think this Monsanto slam is good, the next one is better…

          11. I gleaned before, now I read closer. I’m taking Jodi off my team and adding Justin and Aaron. Jodi and Ewan have not convinced me that screwing with what God created has no adverse effects on our planet or the critters (including humans) who live on it. I’m not buying what they are selling; I will continue to buy organic from the small farm down the road to supplement what I don’t get from my own garden, I’ll mow the weeds along with the grass, and I’ll be grateful for the wealth of insight on Earth911.com – Gammill and Styles, you guys rock!

          12. Ohh don’t get all mushy, I have a reputation to protect.

            Kidding, thanks for the pat on the back. Justin gets hammered by those he pokes at all the time, he takes it on the chin and reacts as he should. Im really glad you like his work, he is one of the best writers Ive ever worked with and I’ve worked with many.

            Keep reading, I’ve seen the next 40 or so stories already… they will make you laugh until you bleed, and at the same time make those villains in our world have to hire new PR people to clean up his storm.

            Cheers
            Aaron

          13. awww, you guys…
            Thank you both!

      2. Here is an Oregon State University Lecture as part of their Outreach in Biotechnology.
        Your precious organic is 100 times Worst on CO2.. But maybe this university (and EVERY university in the nation as well as almost all high schools that teach Biotech) is involved in a huge conspiracy. Creationists think this way too.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5zeKNO4wb0

        1. haha, you won’t find conspiracy rhetoric with me, but i know some guys you can talk to…Interesting link, I appreciate the post. I’ll see when I can carve an hour out of my life to watch all of it.

        1. haha, speaking of “stereotypical statements”. But to answer your question, No-I didn’t skip biology class. I did play football in high school though, so I may have gotten an abbreviated version :)

  2. Hi Kevin,

    Actually that is not quite accurate. Norman actually said and I’ll quote “There is no evidence to indicate that biotechnology is dangerous. After all, mother nature has been doing this kind of thing for God knows how long,” That was 14 years ago, a few things have changed.

    Aaron

  3. I suggest you read more about Borlaug and GMOs here:

    http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/topics/borlaug/doomsayers.html
    “There is no evidence to indicate that biotechnology is dangerous. After all, mother nature has been doing this kind of thing for God knows how long,” he said. Told a packed hall consisting of researchers and food scientists in the Kenyan capital.

    He dismissed the critics of GMOs as people who had not produced even a kg of food and yet were yelping about bio-safety and the dangers involved in the technology. “There is no evidence to indicate that biotechnology is dangerous. After all, mother nature has been doing this kind of thing for God knows how long,” he said. Told a packed hall consisting of researchers and food scientists in the Kenyan capital.”

    1. Kevin, I read the same paper thats where I got my quote from. That was 14 years ago, he never said it was good, he was asked a question of what he thought of GMO and he answered with a very big I don’t know, no ones done it yet.(not a quote just the premise of what he said in the article. Here’s the link for all who would like to read what he actually said. http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/topics/borlaug/doomsayers.html

      To say he was pro GMO is the same as quoting Galileo on what he thinks the temperature of the sun is.

    2. Good read. So if you agree with what he suggested let’s just use GMOs in starving nations that want them.
      “…the only technology that must be embraced by countries whose food supply is threatened by the inequalities of the world”..

      Since our country’s food supply is not threatened..why the push here? He also called for the establishment of responsible government agencies to police GMO imports…this can not be done when the very agencies we have are revolving-door employees of the GMO industry.
      He has dedicated his life to fight world hunger..absolutely very admirable. But he has not dedicated his life to fight world pollution nor human health, so his arguments can not be used in those areas.

  4. haha, yeah, when starving people won’t eat it-that might be an good indicator that it’s not a good product.

    1. That’s pretty petty. It’s the uneducated government that lets it’s people starve. I’m pretty sure starving people aren’t going to ask, “hey is this GMO or not?”They’re going to eat food!

      1. And our “educated” government allow for poisons in our soft drinks, and beaver butt juice in our ice cream…

        1. and beaver butt juice in our ice cream…

          Oh, but isn’t ice cream just “Frozen Cow Tit Juice”

          1. LMFAO Frozen cow tit juice.

            Hmmm good point. I’m still trying to figure out how we got to the point of sucking nourishment from a bovine teat.

  5. Labeling would imply that they are different and nutritionally they are not. So no need to label. If you’re that concerned you can eat organic and that’s fine. Not like organic farmers never use pesticides anyway…. (insert sarcasm).

    Higher concentrations of pesticide? Well the Roundup ready crops can’t really use higher concentrations? Too much roundup will actually kill the crop! Didn’t know that did you? It would be more accurate to say that different pesticides not higher concentrations. Oh and by the way, in the good old days pesticides were much more harmful than now. No one ever thinks of that. Ever… Lot of the products that were available then are outlawed now. They were way too harmful to be used. The concentrations used today are so low that mere ounces are used in a tank mix.

    Roundup isn’t useless by any means, but for sure farmers need to use differing modes of action and that is happening. Different adjuvants, mixes, and timing rates for pesticides besides RoundUp should be used.

    Did you read where I wrote about GE crops being developed for Africa and Asia? They have a different climate than ours and they could produce more food in their own country rather than exporting it from ours or other countries.

    1. Jodi, I agree that in the ‘good old days’ we used many more harmful things than we do now..we know more now, we should be using less toxic materials rather than more.
      There are so many reports that show farmers who plant GE crops use even more herbicides and insecticides and produce fewer bushels per acre.
      Monsanto used to have a huge facility in Everett, MA…thankfully they left a few years ago but left behind a decimated, polluted toxic wasteland in their wake…still not cleaned up. It’s a very dirty business.

      1. “There are so many reports that show farmers who plant GE crops use even more herbicides and insecticides and produce fewer bushels per acre. ”

        Except that when investigated they are found to be abundantly lacking in credibility. The scientific literature is very clear that GM crops have led to a reduction in the impact of chemicals used, have led to increases in yield (not in all cases, but in enough that to suggest reductions is rather odd (RR1 soy may have had a yield drag, but oeprationally it still made sense to use because the drag was compensated for by easy weed control))

      2. The fact is they use an antibiotic resistant bacterial gene as a marker. We now have world wide resistance to antibiotics that has caused serious untreatable infections…..awesome.

        1. An antibiotic resitance gene was utilized this is true. But it wasn’t a gene that would be efficacious against any of the antibiotics commonly used in humans or animals to prevent disease… so the concern here is rather spurious – the particular resistance gene is present in quite a high (number escapes me at the moment) percentage of soil bacteria (and did prior to GE ever taking off) – are we to be terrified of the very soil?

          1. I know for a fact that there is a mad cow joke in here somewhere…

            Creating antibiotic resistance in humans or in livestock sounds like the kind of thing that leads to zombies…

          2. Wrong again. Care to list those antibiotics? You obviously understand nothing at all about human infection and treatment.

          3. “commonly used” being the key phrase.

            Kanamycin, neomycin, geneticin and paromomycin are a few of the aminoglycosides it confers resistance to.

            Recent increases in resistances to other antibiotics (which have nothing at all to do with markers in GM crops) have made this class somewhat more important, but global safety agencies have concluded that even given the increasing importance of aminoglycosides nptii and other selection markers pose no threats because they ain’t gonna transfer anyway.

            I perhaps overstated the unimportance of resistance via nptii, and for this I apologize, but the fact remains that even if this conferred resistance to the most vital antibiotic we have… its presence in plants would pose absolutely no threat whatsoever without, essentially, invoking magic.

    2. Jodi, we have labeling requirements for things not related to nutrition (size, weight, etc)..so why not GMO?

    3. GMO hypocricy: Either the plants are not patentable because they taste, look and smell the same, or they are patentable because they are different..Gary Hirshberg

    4. Why don’t you look up the patent for glyphosate since you know so much. It kills all the normal flora in the gut. People all over the world are communicating how this is indeed harming human health. Keep on eating your GMO’s.

      1. Even if glyphosate was an effective antimicrobial it’d have to be present in quantities that actual effect microbes (oxygen is an effective antimicrobial, for instance) and to suggest this is the case is utterly nutty.

        http://www.jasbsci.com/content/4/1/37

        Gives a pretty comprehensive look at the lack of impact of GE crops on animal production (billions of animals per year are fed a predominantly GMO diet now, and we see no noticable impact on mortality, morbidity or suchlike – things one might expect if gut biota were being thrown seriously out of whack)

          1. Wow, what a well reasoned, researched and referenced response.

            For your followup are you perhaps going to suggest that you are rubber and I am, I dunno, glue or something?

  6. Me too, I love the stuff. Nothing better than a good old fashioned debate before Friday wine time.

    Aaron

  7. Disclaimer up front, I work for Monsanto, the comments herein are entirely of my own devising and are not to be confused with those of my corporate overlords. (I was, alas, sucked here because I was slacking at work and a facebook post on this topic popped up, and not because I work for PR, I’d be terrible at PR as I waffle on and am not, even remotely, polite to people or relatable or whatever the current buzz thing to do in PR is…)

    The reduction in nutrients bit, while interesting, is hardly going to be one of the biggest impacts of global warming or CO2 rising – while the nature paper says that carb dilution isn’t entirely responsible for the shifts I’d put money on it being responsible for the bulk of the shift as they’re dealing in percentages – higher CO2 leads to more CO2 assimilation which leads to more available carbohydrates to partition into grain. If you increase carbs by 15% and all other inputs are kept relatively equal (and there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t be – photosynthetic rate is one of the big brakes on crop productivity, at least in terms of bulk) you’ll see the percentage of all other nutrients and micronutrients drop simply because there are more carbs present…

    Consider a very simple made up seed which consists of 0.33g carbs, 0.33g protein and 0.33g oil. (33% of each)

    Increase carbs while maintaining all other variables. 0.44g carbs, 0.33gprotein, 0.33g oil… your percent protein and oil are now 30% each rather than 33% each, which represents a 3% apparent reduction.

    Not that this is really an issue – the increases in carbon assimilation one sees in increased CO2 environments are very unlikely to be realized in the real world because CO2 isn’t the only issue… we expect to see rising ozone levels associated with climate change, increased ozone will almost certainly counteract CO2 in terms of crop yield and thus you’re back, at best, to square one (there are FACE experiments which back up these claims, the FACE system is awesome)

    “If you don’t know who Monsanto is, they are the evil geniuses ”

    Evil? That surely requires some evidential backing… (I don’t feel particularly evil, although it may be a tad unethical of me to spend my time writing a big old internet screed rather than crunching data)

    “responsible for the majority of the seed used for commercial farming”

    33% (ish) isnt the majority… sure their traits may be present in greater than 90% of corn, soy, cotton etc… but in terms of seed market share they tend to hover at around 33% for the major row crops and somewhat less in veggies (they’re still present in the veggies market, but don’t have near that level of market penetration and no traits to even give the uninformed a false sense of market dominance)

    “their overwhelming negative impact on the world”

    Not so much… the impact has infact been overwhelmingly positive, it’s amazing the spin that reality has to be given in order to paint this as a negative.

    “So basically, they make your vegetables resistant to their poison so they can spray it with their poison.”

    It must be covered here however that glyphosate is only a poison to species which use EPSP synthase to synthesize aromatic amino acids – which excludes the entire animal kingdom. There are decades of solid science demonstrating that glyphosate is of no concern in terms of human and animal health.

    “without a label or any other warning to let you know that what you are eating wasn’t created by nature,”

    Nothing you buy at the store was “created by nature” in the sense you’re portraying here (although technically given that all of reality is nature, including humans, the meaninglessness of the phrase becomes rapidly apparent) – it’s all been tampered with by humans (pretty much, perhaps a few items are still “pristine” or whatever, but they represent the overwhelming minority – 10,000 years ago corn was a rather unimpressive grass that maybe held somewhere in the region of 20 tiny seeds in entirely the wrong spot)

    “but was dreamed up in a lab full of guys in white coats who took a break from counting their money to poison you.”

    As someone who has, y’know, actually participated in the R&D process for new traits (specifically yield and stress traits in Corn and Soy) this doesn’t represent reality at all. First we mostly don’t work in the lab (sure, some do, but even then white coats are a bit of an oddity!), second the researchers involved come from all fields of biological sciences – agronomists, crop physiologists, enzymologists, molecular biologists, plant pathologists… etc etc… name an ist and we probably already got one. Again you raise the issue of poison, but without backing it up at all.

    “’m pretty sure that if you hopped in your nearest time machine and went back a couple hundred years, you’d find that a genetics lab wasn’t part of your local cabbage farm. ”

    I’m also pretty sure that if you hopped in your time machine and went back a couple hundred years you’d find that aseptic technique wasn’t part of your local surgeon’s best practices. I don’t know that the analogy really takes you to where you want to be. The past sucked. (y’know who else really fetishized the past… the mother-F-ing nazis!)

    “GMO crops have absolutely no benefit to humans”

    So long as one discards all the benefits they have to humans you’re correct.

    Commercialized GM crops have many benefits however.
    They benefit farmers by increasing productivity (one way or another).
    They benefit the environment in general by reducing the environmental impact of farming (when one compares it to what would be done otherwise)
    They benefit folk like myself by giving us cool interesting jobs to do in which we’re afforded the luxury of slacking off to argue on the internet so long as we meet our goals and whatnot.

    (hey, I guess they kinda suck for the manufacturers of insecticides though, given that they do away with the need for many of them in Bt crops… major drag that one, you should maybe highlight that – will nobody think of BASF?)

    “They cross-pollinate other “non-GMO” crops”

    Assuming you can provide evidence of this occuring perhaps you can also enlighten anyone as to why this would be a bad thing (crops cross pollinate each other all the damn time… there’s demonstrable evidence, for instance, that field corn pollinating sweet corn has an adverse effect (it unsweetens the corn and makes it gross tasting)) for GMO crops but not for others.

    “They create “super strains” of plant disease.”

    Err… name one plant disease that has a super strain due to GMOs. Just one.

    “They are even modifying the genetic make-up of the bugs that feed on the plants, as they become resistant to the pesticides that the plants are resistant to, evolving them into science fictionesque superbugs.”

    This is entirely muddled. Bugs don’t respond at all to the pesticides the plants are resistant to. The pesticides the plants are resistant to are herbicides, predominantly glyphosate. Bugs, being animals, aren’t harmed at all by glyphosate, so glyphosate imposes no selection pressure on them whatsoever.

    I assume what you are getting at is the evolution of resistance to Bt toxins (a group of proteins produced in the plant tissue which acts insecticidally to kill certain groups of insects which would otherwise be controlled (less effectively) by sprayed on chemicals) – any -cide imposes a selection pressure towards resistance to that particular -cide, this occurs whether it is done by GMO or by spray – indeed the first cases of Bt resistance occured not in GMO fields but in organic fields (where sprayed on Bt is a useful tool in the control of insects – although here they use the sporulated bacterium rather than the active protein) – and while, in relation to Bt the bugs can be considered “super” this is really just scary nomenclature invented to create false fear, it’d be a sad science fiction pitch to be sure…

    “So, tell us about your story”
    “Ok, well, it is set in a dystopian near future, the world is about to be beset by a new strain of superbug”
    “Sounds neat… tell us of the strengths of this superbug, what does it do?”
    “Well, it feasts upon newly emerging ears of corn!”
    “Ok, and what makes it super?”
    “It doesn’t die when Bt toxins are applied!!”
    “Ok, what does kill it?”
    “Any other insecticide”
    “Oh… so kinda jsut like a regular bug then?”
    “Well, sort of…”
    “So what makes the story compelling?”
    “Err… the bug is super! Also the protagonists girlfriend chokes on one shortly after she helps him out by pointing out he could have used a broad spectrum insecticide to control the problem”
    “Aren’t you just badly ripping off spiderman now?”

    “Norman developed a strain of high-yield, disease resistant wheat”

    Funnily enough what Norman did is pretty antithetical to your apparent preferences – he selected for strains of wheat which would better withstand massive application of chemical fertilizers – previously wheat was limited in how much of an impact fertilizer could have because it’d get top heavy (unlike corn which sensibly grows its ear close to the ground (due to freakish mutations) wheat insists on growing its ear right at the top, which from an engineering stance is bloody stupid) – Norman puzzled out that shorter wheat with a sturdy stalk would be able to take advantage of more applied fertilizer, so he bred for this, and he was right.

    ” He took what nature had given us”

    Nature and BASF (Haber Bosch process…) – I knew *someone* was thinking of BASF #phew.

    “But naturally grown foods will always have a label”

    Not actually true. I could “naturally” grow food and be sued to oblivion if I dared put an organic sticker on it because the organic label requires certification. The USDA organic sticker does act as a guarantee of sorts for many things (one need only look at the USDA organic certification guidelines to see what) – although “natural” isn’t really one of them. Unless one considers rotenone, pyrethin, copper sulfate natural…
    The same genetics labs can be used to produce crops grown in organic agriculture (marker assisted breeding).
    http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7#7:3.1.1.9.32.7.354.2

    gives a list of things allowed in organic production… none of it is particularly scary, but equally none of it really fits the “natural” you’re going for…

    1. Well, Ewan…First off, Awesome Comment. This is the longest, most direct, most informed, and longest, comment to date in the history of this site.

      Tolstoy would even cock an eyebrow and say “daaaamn”

      The fact that you work for Monsanto, gives you a little bias, and I understand that.

      The real point of this article, and every article I write is to spark conversation and get people talking.

      So if we are keeping score:
      Monsanto: 0
      Justin:1

      1. “The real point of this article, and every article I write is to spark conversation and get people talking.”

        Am I to take it then that you don’t actually believe what you wrote? (Fantasy is, at least to me, far more interesting than most fact, so it would appear at first investigation that writing with zero knowledge of a subject is likely to spark more conversation than doing ones research and nailing all the facts – it would, at a bare minimum, keep pedants like me from posting lengthy rants)

        1. I beieve everything I write. I just write it in my own special way. Have you read anything else I have written?

          When I wrote research articles no one read them. When I write with style and humor, people read it. Obviously someone read this one today, and shared it, which is why I’ve spent the last 3 hours replying to comments and not working.

          1. Oh, then why are we basing our points system on whether or not we got conversation started? Can’t we base it on something I’d win on, like spiderman references? Or maybe getting the facts right?

          2. Ok you two, thats enough fun for one day, back to work… employers are watching. Don’t make me take away the cookies

            Aaron

          3. You win with the Spiderman references for sure. Your “superbug” thing was hilarious, btw.

            I for one am really glad that you are here commenting.

      2. Basically the comment is one big lie. Pesticide use has gone up dramatically and GMO’s are designed to be sprayed with them..my daughter even “gets” that. I stopped reading half way through as I have heard the exact same lies told over and over…could argue every point but it just gets boring after a while. Just recognize the “source.”

        1. “Basically the comment is one big lie”

          How incisive. You’ve certainly demonstrated this… oh wait no you offer zero evidence beyond the blindingly obvious ad hominem which I had rather hoped I’d shot in the foot by, y’know, declaring my conflict of interests up front. Ho hum.

          Pesticide use is reduced in two manners. For insect resistant crops insecticide use has dropped, dramatically – the peer reviewed literature holds this out again and again. The only measure by which one could argue it has not is if one considers the in-planta produced pesticide as part of the equation, in which case it’d be debatable, but if one is going to do this I’d imagine that you could just as easily argue away that human pesticide use is at all significant given that plants produce vast quantities of -cides as a part of just staying alive.

          In terms of herbicides there are two approaches. The naive approach is to simply look at the quantity of pesticide used. If one does this it is clear that the transition from pre-GMO conventional ag to roundup ready generally led to an increase in quantity of herbicide active ingredient used. This, however, is a rather silly way of looking at it. One must consider the environmental impact of the herbicides involved – the scientific literature is very clear that the imapct of systems is lower under GMO (despite use rates possibly being higher in a number of circumstances) – the analogy I generally give is one of pain medications.

          Sure, if I switch from 10mg of hydrocodone to 500mg of ibuprofen for pain I’m taking way more pain medication. If, however, you’ve had the misfortune to require hydrocodone… you’ll know it has a rather large effect at 10mg, whereas 500mg of ibuprofen is largely unnoticable other than it’ll take the edge of your pain.

          Dose makes the toxin, not quantity. It needn’t have been the case with glyphosate (even if it were as toxic as other herbicides I would imagine it’d still have been a blockbuster product given its efficacy) but serendipitously enough… it has reduced the impact of herbicide use significantly.

          1. Verbal diarrhea. Glyphosate use has gone up many times over. Anyone can drone on and on but we all know that if you design a plant to tolerate Glyphosate you are going to spray that on it. Patent on Glyphosate lists the microbes it kills…many of them normal gut flora. Comparing other drugs to this is stupid. Yes, salt can kill you too etc. etc. Hundreds of studies indicate serious harm has and is occurring.

          2. ” Glyphosate use has gone up many times over.”

            I haven’t claimed otherwise. Obviously glyphosate use increased. Previously crops sprayed with glyphosate would die. Thus making them immune to glyphosate opens up millions of acres which can now be sprayed.

            That isn’t particularly important though. Crops were previously sprayed with chemicals which were more harmful but did the same job (killed weeds) which is where the ibuprofen/hydrocodone comparison comes in – it is merely illustrative that dose (quantity used) is a poor measure of harm (if I were to use 500mg of hydrocodone to relieve a headache I’d be dead, 500mg of ibuprofen, not so much) – which is exactly the mistake that is made with glyphosate – it is safer than the methods it replaced despite being used in higher quantities (again, much as using ibuprofen is safer than using opiates despite having to take vastly more)

            “Hundreds of studies indicate serious harm has and is occurring.”

            No, they do not, there are a handful of poorly done studies (predominantly by Seralini) amidst a sea of evidence that shows glyphosate to be incredibly safe.

  8. I just came here to say that your reference to Nazis is inappropriate. If you want to be taken seriously in the future, you should avoid offensive hyperbole.

    1. From one Jew to another “lest we forget” the only reference to Nazi’s I find offensive are the ones where we don’t mention them at all.

      I can think of no phrase that describes evil better than that word… and when the shoe fits, we will slide it on. It is never hyperbole when we use it to describe a simile.

      Aaron

  9. Pingback: Honey Bees Killed By Pesticides Affect US Agriculture

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