The term Scientific consensus is, by definition, an evidence-based consensus. It does not necessarily refer to 100% unanimity among all human beings, nor even among 100% of people trained in science. Rather, it refers to a consilience of scientific evidence upon which an overwhelming majority of scientists (whose areas of expertise are most pertinent) concede to what the evidence is showing.
It does not mean that every single nuance of every tangentially related question is known with absolute certainty. It just means that no credible reason remains for denying the implications of the evidence with respect to the bigger picture.
Many areas for which there is strong scientific consensus continue to be controversial topics among laypeople (i.e. GMO safety, vaccine efficacy and safety, evolution, Anthropogenic Global Warming, water fluoridation etc), but this is due almost exclusively to a combination of a lack of sufficient competence at evaluating the veracity and meaning of information related to a particular scientific field, and/or motivated reasoning rooted in staunch ideological opposition to something about the particular field of study and its findings. I’ve more thoroughly unpacked the concept of scientific consensus here.
When we speak specifically of the scientific consensus with respect to the safety of Genetically Engineered Foods, which have had the misfortune of being stuck with the semantically misleading colloquial term of “Genetically Modified Organisms” (or just GMOs for short), we’re actually making two different claims:
1) All the currently approved commercially available crops that have been brought about via modern molecular genetic engineering techniques are at least as safe to consume (and are at least as safe for the environment) as their corresponding non-GE counterparts.
2) There is nothing about the process of modern genetic engineering that makes unpredicted dangers any more intrinsically likely than would be the case with other methods of altering an organism’s genome (I.e. Selective breeding radiation mutagenesis, polyploidy or wide cross hybridization).
I go into greater depth on point two and how we know it in the following post, but insofar as point one is concerned, there is a formidable body of evidence to corroborate that conclusion, and an international scientific consensus based on it. Let’s take an overview of the evidence for this.
According to this assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: a literature review.
“Results from all the 24 studies do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed. However, some small differences were observed, though these fell within the normal variation range of the considered parameter and thus had no biological or toxicological significance. If required, a 90-day feeding study performed in rodents, according to the OECD Test Guideline, is generally considered sufficient in order to evaluate the health effects of GM feed. The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.”
Here is an overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research, which incorporated nearly 1,800 studies into its analysis. The authors concluded the following:
“We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety for the last 10 years that catches the scientific consensus matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide, and we can conclude that the scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazard directly connected with the use of GM crops.”
The authors also acknowledge the discrepancy between the prevalent scientific viewpoint and public perception, and thus suggest the following:
“An improvement in the efficacy of scientific communication could have a significant impact on the future of agricultural GE. Our collection of scientific records is available to researchers, communicators and teachers at all levels to help create an informed, balanced public perception on the important issue of GE use in agriculture.”
I can’t argue with that.
This study on Unintended Compositional Changes in Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: 20 Years of Research came to the following conclusion:
“It is concluded that suspect unintended compositional effects that could be caused by genetic modification have not materialized on the basis of this substantial literature. Hence, compositional equivalence studies uniquely required for GM crops may no longer be justified on the basis of scientific uncertainty.”
Here is a 100 Billion animal study with trillions of data points incorporating nearly 29 years of data (both prior to the introduction of GE foods and since) on the prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations. It did not reveal any unfavorable or perturbed trends in animal health or productivity.
Genera is a database with around 400 studies.
It’s only a fraction of the total number of studies that have been done on various aspects of GM crops. There are closer to 2,000 studies (at least) that exist, so the database is still a work in progress, but I like this database because it makes it easy to search by author, by document type, by funding type, by funding source, by subject matter under study, by crop trait, by date, by whether or not it’s open access, by publication status, by journal or a whole bunch of other search options.
Moreover, here are statements from independent national and international scientific bodies demonstrating the overwhelming international scientific consensus:
American Association for the Advancement of Science submitted the following:
”The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”
This statement is from the American Medical Association:
”There is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods. Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”
Here is the World Health Organization’s position:
”No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”
Although they have not declared an official position, the authors of this paper by The Royal Society of Medicine concluded the following:
”Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from that most litigious of countries, the USA.”
The American Council on Science and Health submitted the following:
”[W]ith the continuing accumulation of evidence of safety and efficiency, and the complete absence of any evidence of harm to the public or the environment, more and more consumers are becoming as comfortable with agricultural biotechnology as they are with medical biotechnology.”
This statement was by the American Phytopathological Society:
”The American Phytopathological Society (APS), which represents approximately 5,000 scientists who work with plant pathogens, the diseases they cause, and ways of controlling them, supports biotechnology as a means for improving plant health, food safety, and sustainable growth in plant productivity.”
The American Society for Cell Biology takes the following position:
”Far from presenting a threat to the public health, GM crops in many cases improve it. The ASCB vigorously supports research and development in the area of genetically engineered organisms, including the development of genetically modified (GM) crop plants.”
This statement is from the American Society for Microbiology:
”The ASM is not aware of any acceptable evidence that food produced with biotechnology and subject to FDA oversight constitutes high risk or is unsafe. We are sufficiently convinced to assure the public that plant varieties and products created with biotechnology have the potential of improved nutrition, better taste and longer shelf-life.”
The American Society of Plant Biologists had this to say:
”The risks of unintended consequences of this type of gene transfer are comparable to the random mixing of genes that occurs during classical breeding. The ASPB believes strongly that, with continued responsible regulation and oversight, GE will bring many significant health and environmental benefits to the world and its people.”
The International Seed Federation issued this statement:
”The development of GM crops has benefited farmers, consumers and the environment… Today, data shows that GM crops and foods are as safe as their conventional counterparts: millions of hectares worldwide have been cultivated with GM crops and billions of people have eaten GM foods without any documented harmful effect on human health or the environment.”
Here’s one from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology:
”Over the last decade, 8.5 million farmers have grown transgenic varieties of crops on more than 1 billion acres of farmland in 17 countries. These crops have been consumed by humans and animals in most countries. Transgenic crops on the market today are as safe to eat as their conventional counterparts, and likely more so given the greater regulatory scrutiny to which they are exposed.”
Here’s one from the Crop Science Society of America:
”The Crop Science Society of America supports education and research in all aspects of crop production, including the judicious application of biotechnology.”
The National Academy of Sciences said this:
“The introduction of GE crops has reduced pesticide use or the toxicity of pesticides used on fields where soybean, corn, and cotton are grown. Available evidence indicates that no-till practices and HR crops are complementary, and each has encouraged the other’s adoption. Conservation tillage, especially no-till, reduces soil erosion and can improve soil quality. The pesticide shifts and increase in conservation till-age with GE crops have generally benefited farmers who adopted them so far. Conservation tillage practices can also improve water quality by reducing the volume of runoff from farms into surface water, thereby reducing sedimentation and contamination from farm chemicals.”
The International Society of African Scientists made the following statement:
”Africa and the Caribbean cannot afford to be left further behind in acquiring the uses and benefits of this new agricultural revolution.”
The Federation of Animal Science Societies stated the following:
”Meat, milk and eggs from livestock and poultry consuming biotech feeds are safe for human consumption.”
The Society for In Vitro Biology said this:
”The SIVB supports the current science-based approach for the evaluation and regulation of genetically engineered crops. The SIVB supports the need for easy public access to available information on the safety of genetically modified crop products. In addition, the SIVB feels that foods from genetically modified crops, which are determined to be substantially equivalent to those made from crops, do not require mandatory labeling.”
The Society of Toxicology had the following to say:
“Scientific analysis indicates that the process of BD (Biotechnology-Derived) food production is unlikely to lead to hazards of a different nature from those already familiar to toxicologists. The safety of current BD foods, compared with their conventional counterparts, can be assessed with reasonable certainty using established and accepted methods of analytical, nutritional, and toxicological research.”
Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture – Prepared by the Royal Society of London, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences:
“Foods can be produced through the use of GM technology that are more nutritious, stable in storage, and in principle health promoting – bringing benefits to consumers in both industrialized and developing nations.”
There is a pervasive myth that still lingers in anti-GMO circles (mostly in the US) that European scientists are more incredulous of GE food science than American scientists, that there exists some secret European science that nobody else has access to, and that this is the reason for some of the cultivation restrictions in certain European countries, but as this article explains (with direct references to official EU documents), this is not the case.
In fact, the EU themselves funded almost two decades of GMO research.
Although the commission has shied away from adopting an official position, their 18 year research project concluded the following:
“The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.” (page 16).
And here is a further elaboration on the EU’s position, policies and procedures.
The Union of the German Academies of Science and Humanities Commission Green Biotechnology Inter-Academy Panel Initiative on Generically Modified Organisms Group of the International Workshop Berlin concluded the following:
“In summary, the evidence suggests it to be most unlikely that the consumption of the well-characterised transgenic DNA from approved GMO food harbours any recognisable health risk.”
”Food derived from GM plants approved in the EU and the US poses no risks greater than those from the corresponding conventional food. On the contrary, in some cases food from GM plants appears to be superior with respect to health.”
French Academy of Science said the following:
“This analysis shows that all the criticisms against GMOs can be largely dismissed on strictly scientific criteria.”
The following is a consensus document on GMOs Safety from 14 Italian scientific societies.
In case you don’t read Italian, their concluding remarks translate to roughly the following:
“GMOs are regulated by a regulatory framework that is unmatched in the food industry and therefore they prove to be more controlled than any other food product.
All the analysis for food safety assessment must also be carried out before placing them on the market.
It is appropriate to focus the analysis not so much on the technology with which these plants are produced, but rather on genetic traits inserted, following a case-by case evaluation.
GMOs on the market today, having successfully passed all the tests and procedures necessary for authorization must, on the basis of current knowledge, be safe to use as human and animal food.”
Finally, the National Academies Press published this impressively comprehensive work on the Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States.
They evaluate each trait on its own individual merits and cover everything from food safety and environmental impact to biodiversity, gene flow between GE crops and weeds and non-GE crops, as well as crop yields, soil health and even economic and social repercussions. It’s rather spectacular actually, and probably worth bookmarking. Here’s a summary.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can the full 400+ page PDF here. It’s free on the condition that one creates an account on NAP (or at least signs in as a guest). They were quite exhaustive in their examination of the issue. Alternatively, this video explains it well too. A PDF copy If nothing else, at least check out their “key findings” (page 214) in which they state the following:
“The evidence shows that the planting of GE crops has largely resulted in less adverse or equivalent effects on the farm environment compared with the conventional non-GE systems that GE crops replaced. A key improvement has been the change to pesticide regimens that apply less pesticide or that use pesticides with lower toxicity to the environment but that have more consistent efficacy than conventional pesticide regimens used on non-GE versions of the crops. In the first phase of use, herbicide resistant (HR) crops have been associated with an increased use of conservation tillage, in particular no-till methods, that can improve water quality and enhance some soil-quality characteristics. That farmers who practice conservation tillage are more likely to adopt GE crops suggests the two technologies are complementary.”
Moreover, at least about half of the GE food research is independently funded, contrary to the claims of most opponents of the science. This review found that 58.2% of the scientific literature had no conflicts of interest.
The minuscule fraction of papers claiming harm due to GE foods have frequently been of inferior quality (sometimes with severe methodological flaws), published in lower end journals (sometimes without any impact factors at all), and involved more frequent conflicts of interest (60%) than is seen in the general GE food literature. This paper discusses this phenomenon.
If the scientific consensus was a result of flawed (or even fraudulent) industry-funded studies flooding the scientific literature, as many opponents of the technology contend, we should expect a trend of systematic contradictions between the industry funded research vs the rest of the literature, but that’s not what we see. For more on the issue of independent vs industry-funded biotech research, here is an excellent article on the subject by Marc Brazeau.
So, any claims that the scientific consensus is bought and paid for by corporations are simply not credible. Not even the oil giants, several of which are 20-30 times as huge as the biggest biotech companies, are capable of buying off the entire global scientific consensus in a particular field.
In summary, there is an overwhelming international scientific consensus with regards to genetically engineered crops. The notion that “Big biotech bought off every study and credible scientific organization in the world” is the secular science-deniers’ version of “the devil put the fossils there to test our faith.”
Although some people may invent increasingly elaborate conspiracy narratives to dismiss the international scientific consensus as an illusion or a nefarious plot to deceive all the non-scientists, there is simply no credible evidence for this nor any plausible means by which a conspiracy of that scale could exist.
No, the Reptilian Shape-Shifters aren’t colluding with the Great Big PharMonSatan to control the intergalactic food supply and poison everyone for the Shilluminati Shadow Government’s depopulation operation for the NWO.
It’s time for a reality check.
Image via AxisMundiOnline.
Todd Gentry · November 24, 2015 at 2:20 am
Who paid for this ?? Who paid for every section? Have these scientists or organizations ever received money from GMO corporations?
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 8:35 am
What? This blog? I paid for it. There’s a flat fee for buying the domain name, and then a periodic fee for hosting. Lay off the tinfoil hat.
Drmoo · May 5, 2016 at 11:43 am
LOL this response ‘lay off the tinfoil hat’ I Love.
Mitch · November 25, 2015 at 10:49 am
It was our evil lizard overlords!!
Alex Kaminsky · November 24, 2015 at 7:36 am
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ pro-GMO position expired in 2012, and the ADA has had no position for or against GMO as of today. So the picture is misrepresentative.
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 9:17 am
On it. Thanks for the heads up.
Simon Lundström · November 24, 2015 at 10:06 am
I agree with the studies but unfortunately you have forgotten to mentioned the very problematic notion of copyright on GMOs and situation of farmers who become dependent on companies in order to get grain. Not paying Monsanto = copyright infringement. Being a skeptic does not entail being a rightwing big buisness lover.
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm
It’s not that I “forgot” the “problematic” (in your opinion which happens to differ from most farmers I know) aspect of GE patents. Rather, this article was not about that. It’s interesting that you resort to lumping me in with some political ideology you dislike instead of presenting a valid argument. Very well though, here’s why your criticism is without merit:
The issue with patenting plant technology is analogous to software agreements. You have a product that requires years of development and tons of investment and as soon as the product goes out the door, anyone can make nearly infinite copies at virtually no cost.
Both the issue of wanting to see more innovation and the consolidation of the seed industry (Monsanto doesn’t have a monopoly, it’s not even the biggest company of the Big 6) should be addressed by cutting out needless regulatory hurdles that keep products in the pipeline for a decade (half the length of the patent BTW) and keep the costs of development too high for smaller companies and university breeding programs to compete and bring products to market.
Plant patents precede genetic engineering by several decades. Here are some examples from the 1930s:
This first one was the first one ever:
And here is a wiki article explaining the plant patent act of 1930:
Moreover, “Agricultural innovation plays a key role in driving long-term agricultural productivity, rural development and environmental sustainability by encouraging new solutions. For this reason, innovation needs to be supported and protected.
Contrary to what some say, GM seeds are not the only seeds with Intellectual Property Rights. Almost all conventional (non-GM) and organic hybrid seeds are patented and cannot be saved for use in the next planting season.
In any industry, the maintenance of IPR is an essential basis for innovation and progress.”
Here is an example of a patented organic seed: http://www.blueriverorgseed.com/docs/PuraMaize-Fact-Sheet.pdf
Delta Farm Press also has a pretty good primer on plant patent history: (http://deltafarmpress.com/us-seed-law-history-primer).
Plant patents do not give the owner the ability to regulate seed quantity and price. The market does that. Patents merely permit a time windows during which to recoup their investment for their innovation by disallowing people to use the product without permission and sell it as their own. There are other seed companies, and they compete for farmers’ business by offering good seeds at competitive prices.
Patents have expiration dates:
Here is an elucidating article on Monsanto’s own page about patent law and what happens when a plant patent expires:
I’ve sometimes heard people claim that the patents somehow allow Monsanto to “force people to use their seeds.” This is of course complete nonsense. That has never happened. A seed company can’t force anyone to use anything. Many farmers CHOOSE to use their seeds because they permit them higher outputs for fewer inputs.
Moreover, most farmer’s don’t find the Monsanto stewardship agreement onerous:
The truth is that farmer’s have more choice in seed than a lot of city folk realize. Here’s one, but if one googles around, it is easy to find some other seed catalogues. The anti-GMO people have been simply been spreading incorrect information:
Dr. Chim Richalds · November 26, 2015 at 10:22 pm
Thanks for this. This is a common “argument” that I hear against GMOs whenever the topic comes up. Yes, it conflates the issue of safety and “Big Agra,” but it’s nice to be able to tackle this side of the topic as well.
Gaspard Morse · December 7, 2015 at 5:46 pm
I’ve already give you my opinion on Facebook. You claimed I have no evidences. Pay attention to that: https://www.rt.com/news/324826-monsanto-hague-tribunal-ecocide/
It may change your mind, if it doesn’t, let’s talk about this again next year, after the trial.
Credible Hulk · December 12, 2015 at 5:45 am
I can’t say I remember that, but if that rt article is what passed for evidence in your book, then it’s definitely plausible that I would have said that you don’t have any legitimate evidence. It’s not a real trial. It’s a publicity stunt manufactured by anti-GMO demagogues. My friend, Kavin Senapathy explains here:
“The bottom line is that this tribunal isn’t a trial, it’s theatrics; a group of anti-genetic engineering leaders convening at a pretend court brandishing UN and ICC rules. Would we do much more than laugh if Gucci put The Gap on trial with a toy gavel? I suppose some of us would grab a bowl of popcorn and tune in. The “International Monsanto Tribunal” deserves little more next October.”
So by all means. Let’s talk again after the, (ahem), “trial.” 😀
Little Greenie · November 26, 2016 at 11:26 pm
What of the issue of neighboring farmers to GMO growers, who wish to maintain their own strains of crops, but just with the wind bowing across pollen, the nonGMO farmer’s strains of crops now have the genetics of say Monsanto. Because of the courts protecting patents; the non-GMO farmer has to pay royalties to Monsanto because the wind caused the crossbreeding of their crops with GMO crops. This woud be like a victim of rape having to pay the rapist for “sperm donations”.
Credible Hulk · January 8, 2017 at 9:34 am
Although it’s a persistent myth that biotech companies such as Monsanto sue farmers for accidental cross-contamination, it has never happened, and probably never will.They do occasionally sue people for deliberate copyright infringement, in which case they then donate the money to youth leadership initiatives and scholarship programs. They have to defend their patents or else they become meaningless and they lose them.
In 2012, a coalition of organic farmers known as the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), with the help of the Public Patent Foundation (PPF) attempted to sue Monsanto over the issue of cross pollination. They were asked to provide evidence that anyone had ever been sued by Monsanto for accidental trace cross-contamination, and lo and behold, they lost the case because they couldn’t produce a single case of it ever happening. SCOTUS declined to hear the case because OSGATA had no evidence that it ever had or ever would happen. You can peruse the court documents here.
“Indeed, plaintiffs’ letter to defendants seems to have been nothing more than an attempt to create a controversy where none exists. This effort to convert a statement that defendants have no intention of bringing suit into grounds for maintaining a case, if accepted, would disincentivize patentees from ever attempting to provide comfort to those whom they do not intend to sue, behavior which should be countenanced and encouraged. In contrast, plaintiffs’ argument is baseless and their tactics not to be tolerated. “
The PPF and OSGATA case was particularly ridiculous in my opinion because it was a preemptive lawsuit for something that Monsanto has never done, and claims they never will do. Yet, the plaintiff wanted to push them into a stronger relinquishment of their rights to protect their patents, such that pretty much anyone could get away with stealing their products.
They were ostensibly trying to preemptively sue Monsanto for something they had never done on the grounds that they “might” do so in the future (even though Monsanto has explicitly declared that it will never do that). OSGATA intentionally tried to make up a controversy, but the courts weren’t buying it.
“The Public Patent Foundation had written a letter to Monsanto basically asking for a blanket immunity for all the plaintiffs against ever being sued for patent infringement, even if they did intentionally engage in infringing activity. Monsanto responded with a statement of its policy, which it had previously published in other venues:
‘It has never been, nor will it be[,] Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits are present in [a] farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.’
Amazingly, the Public Patent Foundation characterized Monsanto’s statement as an implicit threat, and as such the basis for declaratory judgment action.
The court totally rejected this flawed logic, declaring it “objectively unreasonable for plaintiffs to read [the language of Monsanto statement] as a threat.”
Dave · November 24, 2015 at 4:46 pm
Simon, you’re mistaking copyright for patents. New strains are patented. My question is, why is this a problem? First of all, patents last 20 years and that’s it. Second, no farmer is forced to use patented seeds. When a new strain is created, they’re free to keep using the old one. Many do switch, because the success of the new one, even with patent fees, is still more profitable than using the old one. Also note that licensing is annual. So if they sign up for some seeds, and don’t like them, they are totally free to go back to what they were using before.
So where is the problem?
John Turner · November 24, 2015 at 11:38 am
Yawn. Yet another attempt to denigrate anyone who dares to not buy into the pro-GMO story by labelling them as conspiracy theorists using ridiculous fringe stereotypes. Your attempt to argue from authority is quite funny.
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 4:56 pm
I don’t think you understand what an “argument from authority” actually is. The evidence is presented in the article. Dismissing it out of hand is not a rebuttal. It’s comments like these which serve to show any rational bystanders the degree of cognitive dissonance anti-biotech people can endure in the face of incontrovertible evidence, and how causally they dismiss evidence in favor of ideology. By and large, anti-GMO activists ARE conspiracy theorists. Not all of them, because some have simply been misinformed by aggressive anti-biotech smear campaigns, and they lack the patience and/or objectivity to look at the facts. And perhaps not necessarily “fringe” conspiracy theorists in all cases, because there are so many of them, but being greater in number than other conspiracy theorists doesn’t make their mentality any more rational or evidence-based. You need to own that, or else if you don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, then you need to change your beliefs to fit the facts. Complaining to the messenger isn’t going to cut the mustard, Johnny.
John Turner · November 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm
That’s ok Creddy Hulky Baby…. You are allowed your opinion but your opinion does not a fact make. Everyone suffers from cognitive dissonance ( including you and me ). All evidence is refutable. It’s merely an exercise in doing what you just tried ( and failed ) to do to me. Go look up Ad hominem attacks…
I didn’t actually attack your evidence….get your facts straight Hulky Baby… I attacked your boring and derivative tactic of characterising people who don’t agree as conspiracy theorists and fringe repshillian ones at that. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.
Where are Your stats and references supporting your statements like “by and large, anti-GMO activists are conspiracy theorists”, “aggressive anti-biotech smear campaigns”, “they lack the patience”?
Your opinion does not count if you wish to be Credible. Your prejudiced assumptions do not count either. Neither do the unattributed opinions of your unidentified and unpublished supposed farmer mates.
Also, do try not to make assumptions about me…I deliberately haven’t stated my position on this favoured topic of yours.
Not impressed so far with your attempts so far. It would be trivial for those you have tried to “smear” in you assumptive op-ed sections and responses to label you as a guilty of the sorts of things you accuse them of.
Steven Grant · November 24, 2015 at 8:51 pm
So, are you here to simply troll the author? Crying about ad hominem, but starting your comment with “yawn” and offering a condescending statement about the article reeks of troll baiting.
Steven Grant · November 24, 2015 at 8:55 pm
Also, being vague and overusing “yawn” is a terrible way to debate a point.
Credible Hulk · November 25, 2015 at 8:37 am
“That’s ok Creddy Hulky Baby…. You are allowed your opinion but your opinion does not a fact make.”
– Apparently you don’t understand the difference between facts versus opinions either.
“Everyone suffers from cognitive dissonance ( including you and me ).
– Perhaps sometimes. However, cognitive dissonance has a short half life for me because I’ve cultivated a habit of proportion my views to fit the evidence, and altering them again when warranted. It’s just that evidence-free outrage from butthurt trolls isn’t very high up on the hierarchy of evidence.
“All evidence is refutable.”
– Not necessarily. In principle, interpretations of evidence can be overturned by additional evidence, but unless the evidence was simply made up out of thin air, or based on faulty measuring tools, then the evidence itself is not normally refuted. New explanatory frameworks have constraints on them. This is known as the correspondence principle. A new theory must reduce to agreement with the old theory for conditions under which the old one’s predictions agreed with experiment. I’ve explained this before here.
“It’s merely an exercise in doing what you just tried ( and failed ) to do to me. Go look up Ad hominem attacks…”
– See, this is why I have a pet peeve with people who have no understanding of formal logic simply memorizing the names of logical fallacies they don’t even understand well enough to tell where they do and where they don’t apply. It’s technically NOT an ad hominem logical fallacy unless the person uses the alleged unfavorable trait of the opponent as the REASON why their argument is false. That’s not what happened. What happened is I demonstrated an overwhelming international scientific consensus for GE food safety using credible evidence from some of the most respected scientific organizations in the world, along with systematic reviews and literally thousands of studies. The fact that I poked fun at conspiracy mongers at the end does not constitute an ad hominem logical fallacy.
An ad hominem argument has the basic form:
A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about A
Therefore X is false
That’s not what happened here, so your complaint is invalid.
Technically, I could blatantly insult someone and it wouldn’t diminish the strength of my argument in terms of the brute facts and logic (not that I would do that of course, nor is that what happened here). It might not be very nice, and it might tempt the opponent to bury his or her head in the sand and deny reality in the face of incontrovertible evidence, but it’s not fallacious unless it’s used as the REASON for dismissing the opponent’s position. So, apparently it’s YOU who ought to be looking up “ad hominem,” and not me.
“I didn’t actually attack your evidence….get your facts straight Hulky Baby… ”
– Well, that’s good, because that’s unlikely to have gone well for you.
“I attacked your boring and derivative tactic of characterising people who don’t agree as conspiracy theorists and fringe repshillian ones at that. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.”
– So you made it to the last paragraph before you got bored? Sweet!
Sounds like a success to me!
“Where are Your stats and references supporting your statements like “by and large, anti-GMO activists are conspiracy theorists”, “aggressive anti-biotech smear campaigns”, “they lack the patience”?”
– Wow, so you’re REALLY out of the loop, aren’t you? Lol. For starters, let’s look at current events: namely, the despicable and disingenuous smear campaign against Dr. Kevin Folta, who has been a prominent public educator on agricultural science and biotechnology for several years. More on that here. This Slate article very thoroughly explains the sheer depth of the fraud and misrepresentation behind the anti-GMO movement. All of the following are examples of groups involved in active deliberate smear campaigns against the technology itself: Here, here, here and here.
The main antagonists from many of these groups have ties to each other’s organizations, which you can read about here, and here. No wild speculation necessary. These affiliations are matters of public record. And what about Food Babe, Natural News and Joe Mercola, all of whom have snake oil to sell people and whose sales benefit by instilling unfounded fear in people?
I’m involved in the public debate on this virtually every day and have yet to meet a single counter-exampled to my observation. It’s almost tautologous really. How would it even be possible to be anti-GMO without being misinformed, and/or ideologically driven and/or a conspiracy theorist? Explain to me that, and show me a counter-example and I’ll concede. However, if I was a betting man, I’d guess that you can’t.
“Your opinion does not count if you wish to be Credible.”
– Gosh! Well, I guess it’s a good thing I’ve got all the scientific evidence backing me up then. Or else I’d be in big trouble! (Not really, since then I’d just simply change my position to fit the facts like any rational human being would).
Given the fact that the article was absolutely CHALK FULL of facts and references, whereas your comments have been nothing but whining and complaining with no valid counter-arguments whatsoever (let alone evidence), it is probably not my credibility that you should be worried about.
“Your prejudiced assumptions do not count either. Neither do the unattributed opinions of your unidentified and unpublished supposed farmer mates.”
– That’s fine. That’s what evidence and logical arguments are for. I’m not seeing anything related to any of those claims you made in my previous response to you. Are you just making stuff up now?
“Also, do try not to make assumptions about me…I deliberately haven’t stated my position on this favoured topic of yours.”
– I honestly didn’t even know you existed until you gave your unsolicited and unsupportable opinion here on my blog, and I’m perfectly fine with you keeping your position to yourself. I’m not sure where you got the impression that your position was important to me, or that I’d even remember your name for more than a couple of days.
“Not impressed so far with your attempts so far.”
– And I am not impressed with your amateur level tone-trolling and completely lack of substantive argument.
“It would be trivial for those you have tried to “smear” in you assumptive op-ed sections and responses to label you as a guilty of the sorts of things you accuse them of.”
– Oh, they do. Especially on Facebook. It’s just that it’s very easy to make accusations, but demonstrating them to be the case is much harder; especially when I’ve already rigged the game by siding with the facts to begin with. It’s actually rather entertaining watching them get destroyed by science in the comments sections on facebook (see for yourself).
John Turner · November 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm
Hulk’s Ego: 88 – Hulk’s Attention: 0
You do rather keep missing the point that I’m not attacking your GMO evidence. AT ALL. I don’t need your Ego to repeat to me just how much pro-GMO evidence you gave in your very lengthy post. [ Shall I give your Ego the extra strokes it seems to need? There there! Stroke stroke! Stroke stroke! ]
I am attacking your characterisations and some of your vain attempts at self-defence in the comments. They are derivative and unnecessary to your pro-GMO stance.
“All evidence is refutable.”
– Yes it is, you are simply not going deep enough but I understand why you can’t and it’s not my role to open your eyes on this. *Shrug*
“Wow, so you’re REALLY out of the loop, aren’t you?”
On GMO evidence: Absolutely – Don’t care about it. Not interested. No doubt you have quite thoroughly collected and curated your pro-GMO evidence. Well Done 🙂
On Debating tactics and the broader PsyOp/Info War tactics: Definitely Not. Quite the opposite. Well read and informed and I’m not interested in your sneering attacks.
On Psychology, Philosophy in general, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science: Well read and informed.
Do get it right. I wasn’t attacking your GMO story. Still not. And won’t be after this is done either. Get the context right at least.
Your attempts to a) undermine me in order to refute what I have had to say and b) label any anti-GMO activist as a conspiracy theorist constitutes “Ad Hominen”.
If you can’t see that then I believe cognitive dissonance was mentioned before … “Attacking the messenger” is a subdivision of the ad hominem logical fallacy.
In terms of addressing my points you haven’t done particularly well.
* ”by and large, anti-GMO activists are conspiracy theorists” — focusing on the “by and large” thats more of a generalisation by your ego than anything based on statistics. Also, given that there is unlikely (yes – assumption on my part) to be a centralised register at which people who consider themselves to be anti-GMO would sign up and self identify who would further self identify as activists who then state their respective positions on the matter with a consensus vote of some kind on then being made about whether they constitute a conspiracy theorist. It’s not a provable point. Your or another persons assumptions as to the statistics of them are irrelevant.
* “aggressive anti-biotech smear campaigns” — Well done. You educated me further. [ However, given human nature and the quantities of money involved, if such campaigns exist on one side of an issue then it would be a safe assumption that such campaigns exist on both sides. ]
* “they lack the patience” — Yet another generalisation. Could be true in some cases .. but for all ? Nah…
My pet peeve: People who put themselves up on a psychological pedestal that feel the need to hitch themselves even higher by using sweeping generalisations and snide pre-emptive attacks to try to undermine all potential opposing commentary. As a consciously chosen stance its intellectually dishonest and as an unconscious one it speaks to a weak and fearful person terrified of opposition.
I’ll politely ignore the chorus of fans and bow out of the discussion. I’ve made my points but as the proverb goes … “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.
Credible Hulk · November 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm
You do realize that merely repeating incorrect claims after they were already successfully refuted isn’t a counter-argument, right? Were you not aware of the fact that all anyone has to do is scroll back up to my previous comment to see that your claims about ad hominem and all evidence being refutable were deconstructed, and that the evidence for attempts at concerted anti – biotech smear campaigns were painstakingly laid out for you with hyperlinks that you obviously didn’t even look at? Your entire visit here could be described as a combination of indignant whining and “nuh uh.” Seriously, get a life.
Letitia · April 18, 2016 at 5:43 am
Okay I’m cocdninev. Let’s put it to action.
Dr. Chim Richalds · November 26, 2015 at 10:24 pm
John Turner: “My facts are the real facts. Not because they are supported by the science, but because I feel their truthiness in my (unwittingly-GMO-fortified) bones.”
Anonymous · November 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm
Could you point out the appeal to authority for me? I will happily concede that the closing paragraphs might be construed as a straw man but an appeal to authority I cannot find.
Dr. Charles Payet · November 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm
Hulk, if there is one thing I always enjoy about your articles, it’s that you never fail to provide EXHAUSTIVE references for further those willing to actually take the time and read deeper into the subject. And not just exhaustive, but highly relevant and from appropriate experts rather than self-proclaimed gurus. Excellent summary, as always, and keep up the good work!
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 7:20 pm
Thanks, Dr. Payet! I’m really glad you liked it.
Nate Tanic · November 24, 2015 at 6:47 pm
About halfway through the page, you have quoted “Giotechnology Inter-Academy Panel Initiative on Generically Modified Organisms Group of the International Workshop Berlin”. After a quick Google search it appears you meant “Biotechnology …”.
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm
Yes, thank you. That was a typo. It’s fixed now.
Tina · April 18, 2016 at 2:09 am
That kind of thiinkng shows you’re an expert
Ursi · August 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm
Lol expert? ?? And who reading this knows the original purpose of margarine, a product now advertised and marketed as a butter substitute?? GMO crops are SO safe even wildlife KNOWS not to eat them!!! Thanks for the laugh.
Credible Hulk · October 5, 2016 at 9:03 am
Margarine has nothing whatsoever to do with genetic engineering. Also, even if it were true that wildlife avoided GE crops (which it’s NOT, and for which I’m going to have to ask you to back up that claim with a scientific study), the last time I checked, wild animals are not dietitians. A lot of animals literally eat shit. You may deem them to be more scientifically qualified than yourself to assess the safety of GE crops (and you may be right about that part), but that does not mean that all of us are comparably hindered in our ability to competently assess scientific evidence.
Ann · November 24, 2015 at 7:08 pm
I’m curious what the studies say about “roundup ready” seeds and plants, I am suspicious that some farmers may be tempted to use excessive amounts of roundup and that will be problematic.
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 7:14 pm
Glyphosate resistant strains are among the products subsumed under the safety consensus. Moreover, although the rise in popularity of glyphosate-resistant (GR) crops in particular has coincided with an increase in the use of glyphosate, what critics invariably fail to mention is that its rise in popularity also coincided with the phasing out of other herbicides, most of which were significantly more toxic than glyphosate.
It’s also important to understand that there actually are stringent procedures on introducing new agrochemicals, and on the manner, timing and quanties in which they can be implemented. Now days, every pesticide (whether man made or otherwise) has to undergo extensive testing on toxicity: (acute, chronic and subchronic), the former of which involves (among other things) the discovery of its LD50, the dose per unit mass at which half of the subjects will die of acute overdose, and the latter of which involves extensive multi-animal testing to find reference doses (RfD) using an experimentally derived quantity known as the toxological end point, or the No Observable Adverse Effect Limit (NOAEL), from which the EPA computes what they call “tolerances,” which are typically at least an order of magnitude or two lower than the lowest dose ever observed to have any observable effect in the most sensitive animals (that extra cushion is to account for variability in sensitivity across the population). If trace residues are found to exceed these tolerances, the food cannot be sold.
It is also common to assess for carcinogenic potential, mutagenic and potential effects on fetal development.
My experience is that most people are not taught about these standards and how they are accomplished, and thus it’s easy for them to imagine worse case scenarios because they don’t realize how tightly regulated things are now days.
Credible Hulk · November 24, 2015 at 7:18 pm
It’s also worth mentioning their benefits on environmental impact via the facilitation of no-till or low-till farming approaches. For that, I refer you to the latest Brookes and Barfoot paper, which shows that GE crops have also helped cut greenhouse gas emissions due to farming by the equivalent of removing 12.4 million cars from the road, AND reduced the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) by 19.1%
This was made possible in part by low-till or no-till farming practices facilitated by clever herbicide protocols made possible by herbicide tolerant crops.
>This paper updates previous assessments of how crop biotechnology has changed the environmental impact of global agriculture. It focuses on the environmental impacts associated with changes in pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions arising from the use of GM crops since their first widespread commercial use in the mid 1990s. The adoption of GM insect resistant and herbicide tolerant technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 553 million kg (-8.6%) and, as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops (as measured by the indicator the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ)) by 19.1%. The technology has also facilitated important cuts in fuel use and tillage changes, resulting in a significant reduction in the release of greenhouse gas emissions from the GM cropping area. In 2013, this was equivalent to removing 12.4 million cars from the roads.< I hope that helps.
John D Simmons · December 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm
The problem with the anti-biotech crowd is the “anti” part. If they were simply critical of biotech, they’d be capable of receiving and processing various points of view and developing informed opinions. Sadly, they’ve walled themselves off in a giant echo chamber of opinion where any evidence to the contrary is part of a massive conspiracy.
Steve · January 11, 2016 at 2:45 am
The “Food Babe” said GMO’s are bad, that’s good enough for me !!
Tudor Eynon · April 13, 2016 at 8:29 pm
Well said Credible Hulk.
John Turner. The “Argument from Authority” is an informal fallacy. All things being equal, so to speak, to appeal to Authority can be bad reasoning.
However this shouldn’t be confused with the principle that Expert opinion matters and carries weight. In some cases that is all one has to go on at all, for example when you go in for Brain surgery. There is no side of the GMO dispute which does not cite reports, ‘experts’, peer reviewed journals etc.. Trouble is that one side, the side that sees GMOs as perfectly safe has the weight of evidence and expert opinion overwhelmingly on its side.
As a point of interest I think this informal fallacy is one of weakest to use in debate. I sometimes think it should be retired altogether as it is nowadays more often misused in the way it was here. That is that to cite or base opinion on expert reasoning is to commit some kind of logical mistake. At its extreme it seems to endorse an “University of Google” approach to knowledge and evidence.
Z · April 17, 2016 at 4:31 pm
The funny thing while you keep amassing statements of faceless organizations who very rarely take polemical stances (would love to hear what the actual scientists say, not many of them do dare speak like paid GMO militants, like you do, maybe because they understand there are a lot more thinks that aren’t settled than whether GMOs are good for your stomach), your discourse seems to rely more on sensationalism than reason (cf. “trillion data points” ooo, wow big number! that must mean something… like watching a flat-earther “exposing the truth”).
It’s one thing debunking the charlatans and the pseudo-science on any given topic, and it’s off course a commendable thing. But it’s another thing to place yourself as fanatic militant for the use of GMOs, that has more political and economic interests than actual alimentary and even pretend that gives you some high moralizing grounds to push some particular group’s financial interests on something really needless and absolutely unsustainable (something you willingly ignore or downplay, while focusing on the easy part of beating up the charlatans).
ie, it’s corporate whoring in a world striving to free it self from constantly getting deeper and deeper in its dependency from way too few entities that have amassed way too much power and wealth on the global scale.
Credible Hulk · May 14, 2016 at 10:21 pm
Do you also consider people who debunk moon landing denialists to be “fanatics?” Are we supposed to sit here and pretend that there is even the slightest shred of merit to baseless positions? That would be the fallacy of false balance. You speak of the high number of data points as though sample size was somehow irrelevant to the reliability of a scientific conclusion.
It’s amusing that you’d use the example of flat-earthers, since the fact is that your position is equivalently unscientific as the flat-earth truthers, which is why you weren’t able to come up with a single valid rebuttal to the piece. Your incredulity is not an argument, neither are your 100% evidence-free claims regarding the alleged unsustainability of the technology. I don’t give a shit about your anti-corporate ideology. It’s not an argument against science.
Jeremy · June 12, 2016 at 3:56 am
Where do the crackpots get it in their heads that Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash are capable of pulling off a conspiracy that needs at least hundreds of thousands of people?
Simeon · September 6, 2016 at 7:58 am
If you have a moment, would love to know your thoughts on this:
If I understand it correctly, there has been a very long standing study of wheat in the west that dates back to the mid 19th Century. It found that the nutrition content of wheat dropped in the ’60’s when a new strain of dwarf high yield wheat was introduced.
Whilst data that shows that GMO’s are safe for consumption is welcome, I feel there are other aspects of this issue that people don’t mention: namely, for who’s benefit are the alterations being made? I think many people have experienced food in a supermarket which seems to be far from what it ‘should’ be, or once was. Tomatoes, in particular are a product that have become tasteless and ‘all the same’. I remember in particular when Italian Plum tomatoes became available in shops in the UK. They had a uniquely strong flavour, which seems to have disappeared. They all taste the same. Avocados are another, that seem to have been altered to last longer in the shops, but end up inedible.
Of course, this may well be driven by the desire to eat out of season food year round.
Well, what I’m suggesting is hardly a scientific position, I know!!
These are very subjective points.
I’m just curious if food is altered to make it more enjoyable for customers, or in fact, to benefit industry: higher yield, quicker ripening, longer shelf life, etc
I think that one of the reasons that people easily get upset about it is that food is a necessity. I can imagine many would like to have been asked if they wanted the changes to be made, or at least considered.
I understand that isn ‘t really feasible, I only suggest it might be part of the strong reaction against GMO’s.
Thanks for the article.
Credible Hulk · October 5, 2016 at 8:57 am
Supposing hypothetically that it’s true that recent strains of tomatoes and wheat are less tasty than in the past: there have never been any strains of wheat on the market that have been modified using modern modern molecular genetic engineering techniques, and there aren’t (currently) any GE tomatoes on the market either. There was a GE tomato about 20 years ago (called the flavr savr tomato), but since then, none have hit the market (at least not yet). That’s not to say that no such strains exist experimentally, but none are on the commercial market (for one reason or another). As you said, taste is subjective, and there’s nothing wrong with a person liking what they like and buying what they like. It’s just that any differences in taste that may exist can’t be attributable to genetic engineering if none of those crops have GE versions available.
Joe Ball · September 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm
The role of the federal government in mandatory health and safety regulation is to protect the public from compelling health and safety risks and to assure fair interstate commerce. GE labeling does nothing for the first since there has never been any actual evidence of any public health or safety issues and mandatory labeling would only give a marketing talking point with the legitimacy of an implied government endorsement for non-GE products which would violate fair trade mandates. Labeling would potentially break our regulatory system by making health and safety regulations a popularity contest. At no time ever is the government compelled to tell you everything you want to know. If that were the case every crackpot group would demand their own label making packages look like NASCAR uniforms rendering actual compelling public health information lost in the noise of every special interest group’s useless label demand. If unsubstantiated claims of GE health threats were mandatory labeled on food because some people want to know, what’s to stop people from demanding religious or ethnic labeling of products based on who owns the company. Plenty of people want to know this but it has no bearing on public health or fair trade just like GE labeling.
Credible Hulk · November 25, 2015 at 9:15 am
Thanks for the shoutout, Steve! (or hyperlink out I suppose would be more accurate). 😀
I really liked your latest article. Sorry the post got trolled so hard on Facebook. I think that’s the most I’ve ever seen you reply back to a critical person in the comments.
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