GMO Foods and Biotechnology

Why Country of Origin Labeling is not an argument for mandatory GMO labeling:

There exists a category of pro-mandatory GMO labeling arguments that seeks to remove the formidable burden of having to argue against the international scientific consensus on GE food safety by reframing the discussion to purely normative and/or political terms. This differs from many of the common talking points of GE food opponents in that it doesn’t seek to show that there’s anything wrong with the science or safety of GE foods. Instead, the strategy is to argue that objective scientific merit should not be a prerequisite to the implementation of labeling mandates so long as someone desires it. One common approach to doing so is to cite examples of existing labels whose implementation is not predicated on any scientifically-backed bearing upon health, nutrition, or safety. It’s actually a rather humorous argumentative strategy if you think about it. It basically implicitly concedes that GE labels would be pointless from an objective scientific standpoint, but  argues that that’s okay because we have other pointless labels in society as well. It has even spawned jokes such as this graphic here: (more…)

By Credible Hulk, ago
Chemophobia

A chemical is a chemical is a chemical

A chemical’s properties are not affected by whether it was made by God, Mother Nature, evolution, or a chemist in a lab coat. There’s a certain irony to drinking a soy latte from a BPA-free mug, but that’s not something the chemophobic fear squad seems to understand. This fear-mongering crowd would have you believe that synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are going to be the downfall of civilization as we know it (I admit, that's hyperbolic, but so are many of their exaggerated claims). However, in a truly perfect example of inconsistent application of the precautionary principle and selective consideration of data and data gaps, they completely overlook the potential risks of phytoestrogens, naturally occurring endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in soy and other common foods. (more…)

By Alison Bernstein, ago
Genetic Engineering and Agricultural Science

Genetic Engineering and the Emergence of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

One of the more common criticisms leveled against Genetically Engineered plants, particularly Herbicide-Resistant (HR) strains, is that they are purported to lead to what critics refer to as "Superweeds." The term superweeds is not a scientific term, and can be very misleading to people not familiar with the science. What is really meant by the term is the event in which local weeds become resistant to a particular mode of action undertaken by the farmer for the purpose of weed control. For instance, local weeds might evolve a resistance to a particular herbicide is it's used often in the areas in which they grow. There's nothing "super" about the alleged superweeds other than the fact that they've become resistant to one particular method. (more…)

By Credible Hulk, ago
Genetic Engineering and Agricultural Science

GE Seed Patents, Cross-Contamination, and the Trouble with Cyborg Super Shills from the Future

In being involved public science communication, I come across a number of people who accept the international scientific consensus on the safety of Genetically Engineered (GE) foods for humans, animals and the environment, but who nevertheless dislike them because they are against patents and licensing agreements. Regardless of whether one likes the current IP laws, or whether one even likes the concept of patents at all, it's important to understand why seed patents exist and why a dislike for IP laws is not a valid argument against GE foods. The issue with patenting plant technology is analogous to software agreements. We're talking about a product which requires years of development and massive overhead investment, and as soon as the product goes out the door, anyone can make as many copies as they want at virtually no cost if given a Carte Blanche to do so. In the case of GE plants, it takes an average of about ten years and $136 million to bring a new product to market. That includes R&D as well as multiple tiers of safety testing. The premise is that by allowing a means by which companies can recoup their investment, the option of patenting an invention incentivizes further innovation. (more…)

By Credible Hulk, ago
Alternative Medicine

Money For Nothing: Why Homeopathy Is Still Pseudoscientific Nonsense That Does Not Work

When doctors and scientists publicly denounce the viability of homeopathy, much of the resistance and confusion on the part of the general public stems from people confusing homeopathy with medicinal herbs or with simple home remedies. That is not what we are referring to. When we speak of homeopathy, we're talking about products based on two main pre-scientific ideas which were codified and promulgated in the late 1700s and early 1800s by a man by the name of Samuel Hahnemann.
 They are as follows:
(more…)

By Credible Hulk, ago