[Homeroast] GMO Coffee

Ryan M. Ward silvercro_magnon at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 20 20:23:31 CDT 2010


"I hate to add to this thread"

Why? Its an interesting thread, and if you are a research biologist, you probably have a very valuable perspective here.

"I will agree that there are *some* people working ONLY for the bottom 
line and are using unethical means to makes lots of money for 
themselves and shareholders, but I refuse to paint ALL 
agribusiness and every person working for chemical companies 
with the same broad poisonous brush as Smith."

I cannot comment on what Smith says because I have not read his book(Aside from the fact that biology is not my field). I agree with you; however, that just because you are an agribusiness professional does not automatically mean that you are intrinsically evil, selfish, or working ONLY in your own personal interests. However, having such a strong vested interest tied to money and personal wealth IS sufficient reason to call ones actions into question- and demand disinterested oversight if the issue is sufficient enough to warrant it. After all, the objectivity of any scientist who's research is funded in large part by a private interest which has strong interests in the outcome of the research is usually called into question. Case in point: the tobacco industry's research into the safety of tobacco is usually not respected.

Do you disagree with the assertion that a large portion (I speculate the vast majority) of genetic food research is done to produce crops which are more economically sound to grow and/or more competitive in the market place with lesser marginal cost- an idea related closely with bottom line(I include producing food to feed the world's hungry in this market place. The farmers that grow golden rice get paid too, unless the farmers are doing it purely as a humanitarian effort)? Judgements aside? 
Crops which are resistant to disease, produce more yield, etc... Yes, there are benefits here to the overall population. But I think the fundamental motivation is bottom line. You do not improve factories and efficiency in manufacturing for the purpose of improving your customers' way of lives, you do it to make your product at a cheaper price (maybe you improve your product now that it is cheaper to do so, but again the motivation here is still bottom line). Farms are really just factories of food. Farms are businesses just like any other. (I will grant that my parallel is not perfect, one could think of Farms as factories yes, but Food is not a typical product, neither is medicine. Advances in agriculture can have people's best interests at heart- but I do not believe all such advances are such. What I mean to address is the business side of farming which view a Farm as a factory.) Just like any other business which is manufacturing products that people depend on for their health- their intentions and actions must be scrutinized.

"Having skimmed (reading was too painful) Smith's fear-mongering 
invectives
 ("Seeds of Deceit" (a deliciously ironic name) & 
"Genetic Roulette") : I
 came away with these conclusions that 
Smith has failed to grasp... over and
 over and over):
 * 
Anecdotes are not the same as scientific evidence.
 * 100 
anecdotes does not equal "better" anecdotes, and therefore still does
 not equal scientific or even necessarily valid evidence.
 * 
Correlation does not equal causation
 * Just because you make 
money, it doesn't make you evil"

These sound good to me. 

"Contrary to Smith's claims, this is all "out there" and not 
hidden away through some huge conspiracy of big-Ag companies."

Again, can't comment on Smith, but I do agree that some people take their suspicion of "Big Business" a little too far. Just because a corporation is large does not make it unethical, and just because a business is local does not make it worth my patronage. It all boils down to a case by case consideration. Again, all should be scrutinized to some degree or other- and those who have the greater power to affect our lives need to be scrutinized the most. (Could you imagine a world in which Pharmaceutical companies were not overseen at all or produce had no regulations. Sorry totally-free-market people, I just don't buy it.)

"Either is problematic at best and both are shameful for a writer
 who is swaying the minds of many people through fear rather 
than verifiable evidence."

This is, unfortunately, too common. I don't know how many times I have defended the case for the building of the Large Hadron Collider. Some people honestly believe that it is going to create a black hole that will eat the Earth whole. Lets not forget political propaganda as well.

"There are a handful of GM/GMO problems that were not predicted and 
caused unintended consequences (BT corn pollinating feed corn 
and also affecting Monarch butterfly larvae eating nearby 
milkweed plants dusted with the falling pollen -- but NOT 
affecting, by the way, the animals that ate the feed corn.)."

As I recall, there were more cases, some more severe(I will have to check where I read this before commenting). The examples you have given are very trivial, are you aware of less benign cases? Have you exhausted all cases- or rather types of cases?

Again, I appreciate your perspective.
-- 
Ryan M. Ward

*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (Karmic Koala)
http://www.ubuntu.com

**Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not automatically-generated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone other than myself. I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open source software and the Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word out with each email I send, I encourage you to do the same.




> Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 17:07:14 -0400
> From: janomac at gmail.com
> To: homeroast at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com
> Subject: Re: [Homeroast] GMO Coffee
> 
> I hate to add to this thread, but my "Pseudoscience" button was finally
> pushed:
> 
> ...and before I'd EVER believe the likes of Jeffrey Smith with respect to my
> coffee sources or safety, I'd like for him to answer to simple peer review
> regarding his "studies" on GM foods and GMO safety as reported in his two
> self-published books. No one in my field could get away with making such
> un-cited claims, nor in reporting studies with so few test subjects
> (c'mon...8 hamsters?! Really?). Biologists I have worked with wouldn't be
> laughed out of the journal, they'd be removed from our research positions,
> if not the entire institution.
> 
> Check here for some details that Smith has not, and apparently will not
> respond to:
> http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-individuals/jeffrey-smith/
> 
> I will agree that there are *some* people working ONLY for the bottom line
> and are using unethical means to makes lots of money for themselves and
> shareholders, but I refuse to paint ALL agribusiness and every person
> working for chemical companies with the same broad poisonous brush as Smith.
> There are a handful of GM/GMO problems that were not predicted and caused
> unintended consequences (BT corn pollinating feed corn and also affecting
> Monarch butterfly larvae eating nearby milkweed plants dusted with the
> falling pollen -- but NOT affecting, by the way, the animals that ate the
> feed corn.). A cruise through the literature (not the same as a cruise
> through the Web, by any means) shows an interesting history of the topic and
> many blind alleys as well as fascinating turns of events that show
> scientists finding, solving, and avoiding problems. Contrary to Smith's
> claims, this is all "out there" and not hidden away through some huge
> conspiracy of big-Ag companies.
> 
> Having skimmed (reading was too painful) Smith's fear-mongering invectives
> ("Seeds of Deceit" (a deliciously ironic name) & "Genetic Roulette") : I
> came away with these conclusions that Smith has failed to grasp... over and
> over and over):
> * Anecdotes are not the same as scientific evidence.
> * 100 anecdotes does not equal "better" anecdotes, and therefore still does
> not equal scientific or even necessarily valid evidence.
> * Correlation does not equal causation
> * Just because you make money, it doesn't make you evil
> 
> Smith is either ignorant of proper and productive scientific research and
> argument or is disingenuous with his readership. Either is problematic at
> best and both are shameful for a writer who is swaying the minds of many
> people through fear rather than verifiable evidence.
> 
> 
> Skeptically yours,
> Kirk (JanoMac)
> (Resident biologist and scaremonger-hunter)
> 
> "".
> 
> On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 2:02 PM, cherry carter <theravensroost at gmail.com>wrote:
> 
> > Please read *Seeds* *of* *Deception*, by Jeffrey Smith.
> > In addition: "Evidence on health dangers has prompted the American Academy
> > of Environmental Medicine to say that according to animal feeding studies,
> > GMOs are causally linked to immune system problems, organ damage,
> > accelerated aging, insulin disregulation, gastrointestinal problems, and
> > higher death rates." A USDA report in 2006 showed that farmers don't
> > actually increase income from GMOs, but many actually lose income. And . .
> > .
> > "We have now what I say is irrefutable, overwhelming evidence that the
> > current generation of genetically modified foods are unsafe, should never
> > have been approved, and should be withdrawn." "In *Genetic* *Roulette* I
> > show how industry-funded research is meticuloously designed to avoid
> > finding
> > problems, how they have bad science down to a science."
> > These quotes are from ACRES USA,  The Voice of Eco-Agriculture. January,
> > 2010, *Starving a Hungry World, The Lies and Bad Science of GMOs, by
> > Jeffrey
> > Smith.*.
> >
> > On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM, Ryan M. Ward <
> > silvercro_magnon at hotmail.com
> > > wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > "Some poor farmers in India have committed suicide over how it effected
> > > their livelihood."
> > > WOW! I had not heard of this!
> > >
> > > "Once more - the reason GMO crops are being developed is for the profit
> > of
> > > big farming-business."
> > >
> > > I agree with this statement completely (for the most part- some GMO
> > > research if for medicine and scientific research, but I think the
> > > overwhelming majority of motivation is bottom line.)
> > >
> > > "It doesn't/won't solve hunger problems in this world - that's just a
> > > cover, IMHNSO."
> > >
> > > Personally, I am a little more optimistic. I think that genetic
> > > modification does have the potential to aid in world hunger and
> > > malnutrition- but at what cost? Particularly, I have a hard time
> > believing
> > > that 'more food' is the only solution. Your insight that world hunger is
> > not
> > > due to a shortage of food but controlling of land seems very plausible to
> > > me. After all, how many mouths could we feed using the land on which a
> > golf
> > > course has been built? (However, it is impossible to escape the fact that
> > > such considerations would also press other issues as well- such as should
> > > those golfers be obligated to give up their golfing land to feed the
> > hungry,
> > > or since this is our land- are we entitled to build golf courses if we
> > > choose- despite the fact that people in the world are hungry. Seems to me
> > > that the ownership of land argument leads to a lot of very difficult
> > > philosophical considerations- not that they do not need to be discussed)
> > > I also submit again, that part of our problem (in my not so humble
> > > opinion), is that we are very inefficient eaters. The energy and land
> > > requirements to raise cattle for food are much higher that growing
> > produce.
> > > I am not suggesting we all become vegetarians (I think that would be
> > great
> > > and would alleviate a lot more problems than just inefficient eating),
> > but
> > > if we cut back a bit we could free up some of that grazing land.
> > >
> > > "I am very concerned about the big picture - how this will effect all
> > > people of this earth."
> > >
> > > IMO, this is the most fundamental flaw with our culture- there simply are
> > > not enough people with this big Picture mindset. Irrespective of
> > particular
> > > issue, and criticising both all of any particular issue- a huge portion
> > of
> > > the people that I argue with seem concerned with very short term issues,
> > and
> > > less so with long term consequences. I am not suggesting that we should
> > > abandon short term thinking- not by any means. If a tiger is about to
> > attack
> > > you and you need to decide how to respond- you really need to think short
> > > term! But proximate perspectives are very disproportionately represented
> > in
> > > our considerations.
> > >
> > > Well, I better stop. I decided when I signed up on this list that I would
> > > not get into politics as this is a coffee forum. If I continue any longer
> > I
> > > might accidentally bring up my position that Global Warming is a huge
> > > problem that needs to be addressed and that the only real controversy
> > > regarding the existence of Glogal Warming is the political controversy.
> > >
> > > --
> > > Ryan M. Ward
> > >
> > > *Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 9.10
> > > (Karmic Koala)
> > > http://www.ubuntu.com
> > >
> > > **Note: This signature was placed here by me and is not
> > > automatically-generated-annoying-end-of-email-spam placed here by anyone
> > > other than myself. I am a Linux nut and am doing my part to support open
> > > source software and the Linux and Ubuntu communities by getting the word
> > out
> > > with each email I send, I encourage you to do the same.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > > From: lynnebiz at gmail.com
> > > > Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 08:49:05 -0400
> > > > To: homeroast at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com
> > > > Subject: Re: [Homeroast] GMO Coffee
> > >  >
> > > > Thanks to Mike & Ryan. I wanted to contribute something to the
> > > conversation,
> > > > as it is something that really concerns me - but, I'd have to do a lot
> > of
> > > > research to find the right words (in too much pain to do that right
> > now).
> > > > Ryan, you explained it very well.
> > > >
> > > > I am very concerned about the big picture - how this will effect all
> > > people
> > > > of this earth. As you said, already it's happened w/organic farmers.
> > Some
> > > > poor farmers in India have committed suicide over how it effected their
> > > > livelihood.
> > > >
> > > > Once more - the reason GMO crops are being developed is for the profit
> > of
> > > > big farming-business. The very nature of farming on giant scales makes
> > > for
> > > > problems that have no solutions. It doesn't/won't solve hunger problems
> > > in
> > > > this world - that's just a cover, IMHNSO.
> > > >
> > > > Just read about a roof-top exhibit in NY about the famine in Ireland -
> > > they
> > > > actually brought an actual house fr that time period & reenacted what
> > it
> > > > would look like then. The people who created this amazing exhibit made
> > a
> > > > statement that stayed with me:
> > > >
> > > > Hunger is never about not having enough food in the world. It's about
> > who
> > > > owns and controls the land.
> > > >
> > > > (They also stated as an example, today, in Haiti, lots of the
> > rebuilding
> > > > isn't taking place because of absentee land owners!)
> > > >
> > > > Lynne
> > > > _______________________________________________
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