Golden Rice Field Study Destroyed

Quite sad. Reminds me of the 3 steps for becoming an anti-GMO activist I wrote about last summer:

3 simple steps for anti-GMO activists:

  1. Oppose GMO crops on the basis that there is insufficient research.
  2. Destroy the research.
  3. Go to 1.

Read more about destruction of the Golden Rice study at Biofortified.org

Image of Golden Rice

Golden rice. Photo from International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Comments

  1. Destroying a valid research effort does nothing to increase our understanding of the efficacy of GMO crops. Casting all people who oppose GMO foods as vandals is almost worse because it further polarizes the necessary debate. That there is insufficient long-term, multi-generational studies on mammals including people is factual. The pro-GMO stance that they are not needed also does nothing to increase our understanding of the efficacy of GMO crops.

    Furthermore instead of attacking long-term research papers, the GMO advocates would be better advised to construct research efforts that really do meet all of the requirements to determine not just single variable effects, but also multiple or cumulative effects as well. If you want to reduce the suspicion, you can do it by providing good research results. Simply citing government approval based on short-term studies (usually 90 days) of single variable toxicity won’t do the job.

    1. Mr. Emery, please explain the double standard you are using.

      Of all the crop breeding methods in use, only GMO methods come under this suspicion. Where are the cries for long term studies of crops bred using chemically induced polyploidy, or gamma ray induced mutation? Is there any hypothesized mechanism for GMO problems which is not also present to a greater degree from some non-GMO breeding methods.

      You can’t be unaware that a lot of the anti-GMO hysteria is fueled by completely false beliefs, like the myth of sterile seeds, or idea that Bt is a “poison” that can’t be washed off. You can’t seriously think that sucrose from a GMO sugar beet is different in any way from sucrose from a traditional sugar beet, or sugar cane.

      You object to “attacking long-term research studies”. I’m not aware of a single negative finding from any study, except for studies that have ALL THREE of the following problems: (1) The researcher was a vocal critic of GMO foods BEFORE doing the study; (2) The researcher has made major errors; (3) The study has not been replicated. In fact, these so-called studies are not meant to demonstrate anything to scientists. They are meant to produce scientific sounding press releases.

      I’m also very suspicious about any GMO critic who is uniformly negative about all aspects of GMO agriculture. (As I would be suspicious of anyone who is uniformly positive about all aspects of GMO agriculture.) The same person who believes that they are dangerous to eat also believes that they are bad for farmers, bad for the environment, and socially disruptive. By contrast, when a pro-GMO scientist is shown a problem with some proposed GMO crop, his response is to look for a way to prevent or minimize the problem, which is why we have the refuge strategy for BT crops, elaborate screening to prevent allergens, GMO salmon made triploid and raised far from the breeding range of wild salmon, etc. The reaction of the anti-GMO zealot, by comparison, is to gleefully use the problem ammunition in his crusade.

      1. Hmmm. I presume the fear anti-GMO advocates have is of not knowing for sure that GMO products are safe, especially given that the process to create a GMO is for most people pretty much a scary black box (a commercial gene gun does a lot more than just carefully insert a gene or two). “Normal” processes of crossing plants or animals are familiar and not scary (however ill-advised that conclusion might or might not be). The issue for GMO advocates is unfortunately not about a logical, reasoned, and informed public. Instead the issue is that for the most part it is really hard to get a pro-GMO advocate to be straight-forward when asked about the safety of GMO materials. My search in the literature indicates that there are very few long-term studies of large mammals looking for indications of abnormal effects. Because the emphasis is on litigation, there are almost none that deal with multiple GMO products simultaneously nor are there any that deal with the concept cumulative effects of processed materials that come from a variety of sources.

        Instead of accusing me of a litany of statements I never made (and do not actually believe either), you would have been better advised to suggest a number of well-done long-term studies that do not have a biased PI (pro-GMO, Big Agri-funded, or anti-GMO) does not make procedural errors big or small, and that has been replicated and that do deal with large mammals in a multi-generational fashion that is similar or that can be used as an indicator of the effects on humans. My use of the term “attack” is because any negative study is immediately set upon by critics, especially those from the big agricultural firms and pro-GMO advocates, whereas any neutral study attracts no attention from this group of critics, especially if it is done by a pro-GMO person or funded by GMO biased interests.

        My original comment was actually to scold you gently for accusing any anti-GMO advocate of being a vandal and to suggest a better alternative strategy to help people understand GMO products. It is simply not true that all GMO advocates are vandals or ill-informed. There are of course fringe groups in anti-anything and pro-anything groups, including both sides of the GMO debate.

        Your characterization of pro-GMO folks as all helpful do-gooders and anti-GMO folks as evil, uninformed vandals does very little other than inflame the debate and reduce your personal credibility as a pro-GMO advocate with no patience for the interested observer who does not find the kind of reassuring research results of long-term studies using techniques that would discover any multivariate or cumulative effects such as we all routinely expose ourselves to. There may be no effects … but if that is so, I can’t find any evidence to support it. Indeed most inquiries have been met with the kind of response that you gave, argumentative, unhelpful and insulting.

        If you truly want to promote GMO products, I suggest you address the reality of the fear and figure out how to ameliorate that fear in a realistic, genuine, and polite manner.

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