August 18, 2011

The latest in #GMO lying

I've busted the chops of Nina Federoff before, with briefs on FB for her lying on NPR about genetically modified organisms, including her claims that she'd never seen "spillover" or that she'd never seen the Monsantos of the world be heavy-handed about such allegedly nonexistent spillovers.

Now, the former science and technology adviser to the secretary of state is at it again. (I assume that as part of her 2007-2010 title, she probably tried to browbeat the EU over its GMO regulations.)

OK, the latest GMO Orwellianism? Current draconian regulations hurt "the little guy" of the GMO world. No, really:
Only big companies can muster the money necessary to navigate the regulatory thicket woven by the government’s three oversight agencies: the E.P.A., the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
The truth is that only big companies have the money necessary to engage in GMO research. GMO research is not just about lab work, unlike splicing a gene into a bacterium. You have to have test fields to grow GMO crops in theoretically real-world conditions, among other things.

Beyond that, it's the usual half-story.
The rapid adoption of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant soybeans has made it easier for farmers to park their plows and forgo tilling for weed control. No-till farming is more sustainable and environmentally benign because it decreases soil erosion and shrinks agriculture’s carbon footprint.
She ignores that Roundup-Ready type GMO crops ultimately just decrease the lifecycle time for weeds to develop resistance. She also doesn't tell the truth that no-till farming can be done perfectly well without GMO crops.
Myths about the dire effects of genetically modified foods on health and the environment abound, but they have not held up to scientific scrutiny.
She ignores that allergenic properties have cross-migrated, as when a Brazil nut gene was transposed into certain GMO soybeans.

And, her food alarmism that we need GMO crops to feed more people wanting more affluent food lifestyles ignores other things.

1. That such affluence has its downside, like Type II diabetes.
2. That GMO agriculture could be part of the downside of increasing monocrop agriculture.
3. Per the resistance issues above, that increased GMO reliance could have other deleterious effects.

I don't hate GMO crops. I don't oppose their wise use.

I do oppose lying about them.

Update: That includes a Scientific American blogger who, if not lying, at least was engaging in deck-stacking against organics, including touting GMOs uncritically as part of that. Thank doorknob SciAm invited a guest blogger, Jason Mark of Earth Island Journal, who thoroughly refuted most the other blogger's claims, including with insights just like mine on increased weed resistance, increased monocultures, etc.

And, if the first blogger, Ms. Willcox, really is a master chef, she should know that organics taste better, per the more flavor-related chemicals, etc. She should also know about the allergen transfer per the Brazil nut-modified soybeans, if she doesn't want to get sued over any commercial cooking.

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