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[Norm’s note: if you are reading this on account of what may be happening to the Monarchs, just scroll down past the first three sections until you come to the picture, and you will find the relevant information there.  Everything else is . . . well . . . read it or not.]

RE.: Why Quacks Exist

Interesting.  The article claims to debunk a bit of modern pseudo-scientific quackery by offering up what it purports to be ‘scientifically grounded’ claims.  You have, for example, this paragraph:

What constitutes “certified organic” is also very misleading. Organic farms still use pesticides, but the only difference is that these pesticides are organic in contrast to conventional synthetic ones. These pesticides have actually been shown to be more harmful than synthetic ones because of their lack of specificity, i.e.. they kill the pest and a whole host of other organisms. On top of that, because these pesticides aren’t as target specific or effective, they actually have to be sprayed more to have the same desired effect, which is obviously more harmful than using a synthetic pesticide much less. Because of this revealing data from the scientific community, organic food sales have slowed or begun to decline. This is not some big farm conspiracy; organic food has much higher profit margins than conventional food because consumers are simply willing to pay more for it, so it wouldn’t make sense to doom something that makes you more money.

So, where is ‘this revealing data’ from the scientific community to be found exactly?  Wouldn’t a reference be appropriate, here?  How many studies are we talking about, here?  Who conducted the studies?  Were they scientifically impartial or biased?  Are these peer-reviewed studies by appropriately credentialed ‘scientists’?  In what sense is the ‘spraying of greater quantities of organic pesticides’ obviously more harmful than the use of ‘less’ synthetic pesticide?  Is ‘more’ of one necessarily and very obviously more harmful than ‘less’ of the other?  Is being more ‘target specific’ necessarily and very obviously less harmful than being less ‘target specific?’  Harmful in what sense?  Nutritionally?  Environmentally?  Or both?

As for the concluding statement of that paragraph implying that the use of synthetic pesticides has nothing at all to do with profit margins, but is all about a highly ethical regard for both the environment and human health, isn’t that a tad rich?  Are we really to believe that agribusiness and all of its supporting and affiliated input industries are not really only in the end about the bottom line, and the fatter bottom line at that?  Really?

But otherwise a well written if deceptive piece.

Oh, and by the way, only one reference for you (because I’m pressed for time), to get you started on actually doing a bit of your own ‘research’ on the issue if you are in any way interested:  World’s Number 1 Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk

A reply to the author of “Why Quacks Exist,” who accused me of being shoddy in referencing him to the “extremist in tone” article, World’s Number 1 Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk,  as a possible point of departure in investigating the claims of agribusiness ‘science:’

My reference is shoddy at best? Why? Because the article actually ‘references’ the preliminary test results of Microbe Inotech Labs, St. Louis, Missouri? Because the article reminds the reader that once again the biotech industry, just as it did ‘…in the 20th Century with PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange…,’ is promoting and releasing “… products without long-term independent studies…?” Because the article actually leans on and points to ‘real’ research and results as well as to public records that can be accessed and verified? Whereas your reference leads me to a letter written by ‘students’ to someone who may or may not be a charlatan, a letter as well referenced in its ‘research’ as your own article. I guess that the students, too, did not want to overburden Vani Hari with too many links to too many confusing documents grounded in science and not merely in industry PR. I apologize, therefore, for my shoddiness.

If I may in an attempt to redeem myself offer a couple of additional links to actual research, links that as it happens I found at the “Sustainable Pulse” website, where the “illogical and extremist” article to which I first linked you can be found. Hopefully the extremist nature of that article does not in itself ‘logically’ impugn or undermine the ‘scientific’ nature of that research, research conducted by more than just a handful of Phd(s):

  1. a) http://www.gmoevidence.com/location/lab-evidence/
    b) http://www.gmoevidence.com/location/roundup-evidence/
    c) http://www.gmoevidence.com/location/human-evidence/
    d) http://www.gmoevidence.com/location/animal-evidence/

The point being that businesses have business interests, and these interests tend to trump both environmental and human concerns. Today as yesterday.

One does well to mistrust the claims of ‘organic food’ pushers; but equally as well to cultivate a healthy skepticism of claims made by multi-billion dollar industries.

(Please note: the ‘juxtaposition’ that I am making has nothing at all to do with anything that I myself am writing, but everything to do with the “Sustainable Pulse” website article and the Why Quacks Exist article.)

Final and last reply to the author of Why Quacks Exist, upon his reply to the foregoing (which I refrain to post without permission):

Ah, so credentials matter but then credentials don’t matter. Credibility is all about the ‘scientific consensus.’ And having a Ph.D. means just about squat, especially if that Ph.D. begs to differ from the ‘consensus,’ because everybody knows that nothing new under the sun was ever learned by going against the consensus or by pointing to actual ‘evidence’ that the consensus or ‘big money’ would rather disregard because careers and profits might conceivably be on the line or impaired. And of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that the companies who brought us PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange ever attempted to dominate the peer-reviewed discourse of the ‘scientific consensus’ in favor of the continued industrial scale production and use of those particular poisons. And indeed, it does take hundreds of replicated results to lend credibility to an idea. So why don’t the biotech giants, if they are all about the truth of the matter and not merely about profits, release funds to ‘independent’ teams of researchers to investigate the long term effects of their designer GMOs and herbicides? Could it be that the science might reveal some public health concerns that could undermine the industry dominated ‘scientific consensus’ and all the profits that stand or fall upon that consensus? And why can the public not decide for itself whether it wants to eat a GMO product? Certainly you will agree that there is a bit of resistance to the idea of labeling products by the big players in agribusiness. People, for whatever reasons, might opt for other fare if they had a choice that they could exercise on the basis of information on food labels, but that of course would be bad for business because some people, if not most, would opt for non GMOs. Better to hide what is and what is not a GMO product, therefore, so as to continue to monopolize both a cheaper production cycle and the consequent lion’s share of sales in the markets. And what other danger might ensue from labeling, I wonder? That’s right: studies could then be conducted on the basis of people’s preferred diets, that is, groups that don’t eat GMOs and groups that do, and ‘scientific’ correlations might be established to various incidences of disease if any for either group. That, too, could possibly be bad for business depending upon which correlations turned up. So somehow or other it is that, because we obviously live in a society where everyone is so free to choose, no choice is given either to the individual or public to decide whether one’s diet will or will not be GMO free. No. Of course not. It is GMOs for you and everyone else whether you or everyone else likes it or not. And as for independent scientific investigations that run the risk of discrediting the GMO revolution, “we” can discount them as there simply won’t be any real resources or money, public or private, expended in a serious way in that direction, at least not as provided from the biotech alliances and lobbies — although, unfortunately, some industry independent efforts in that direction seem now to be taking off. Maybe something good will come out of the latter in spite of the steep odds constantly being raised against those efforts by the big agri-corps of this world.

But I sense if only vaguely by the tone of your responses that I have overstayed my welcome at this blog.  And I also notice that your method of argumentation is catching. The problem is that I don’t seem to be able to find any authoritative letters written by graduate level students to support or lend credence to anything of what I’m spouting here. Contrarian Ph.d(s) is all that I might come up with, and since they thereby and by definition fall outside the purview of the industry dominated ‘scientific consensus’ — which as ‘consensuses’ go is by no means ideological but at the core rigorously disinterested and objective — they are here, in this august court of the superlatively open-minded, simply dismissed out of hand and disqualified of all hearing.

Keep blogging. Your thoughts certainly spurred me to something akin to thinking.


And parenthetically, because nothing says “target specific” like “Roundup” (although from the viewpoint of the author of Why Quacks Exist, probably just another wild-eyed unsubstantiated extremist claim, albeit one being made by BILL FREESE and MARTHA CROUCH, PhD and reviewed by Dr. Lincoln Brower):

Source: CommonDreams

Monsanto Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’

‘The alarming decline of monarchs is driven in large part’ by Roundup Ready crops, Center for Food Safety finds

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

Herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops have brought the iconic monarch butterfly to the brink of extinction, according to a new report presented by the Center for Food Safety to Congress on Thursday.

The report, Monarchs in Peril (pdf), is the most comprehensive look yet at how Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ crops have helped decimate the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

As Common Dreams has reported before, and the new study makes abundantly clear, a critical factor in the orange-and-white butterflies’ decline is the loss of host plants for larvae in their main breeding habitat, the Midwestern Corn Belt. Monarchs lay eggs exclusively on plants in the milkweed family, the only food their larvae will eat.

And the loss of milkweed can be blamed on the proliferation of glyphosate, one of the very few herbicides that kills the perennial plant and a primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. While glyphosate was little used two decades ago, it has become by far the most heavily used herbicide in the U.S. thanks to glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready corn and soybean crops. According to the Center for Food Safety, corn and soybean fields in the Corn Belt have lost 99 percent of their milkweed since 1999.

“The alarming decline of monarchs is driven in large part by the massive spraying of glyphosate herbicide on genetically engineered crops, which has virtually eliminated monarch habitat in the corn and soybean fields that dominates the Midwest landscape,” said Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst and co-author of the report. “Glyphosate is the monarch’s enemy number one.”

At the end of 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for monarch butterflies. The agency is now conducting a one-year status review on monarchs.

While CFS said endangered species protection is “paramount,” the report lists numerous interim and additional policy recommendations, including that the “U.S. Department of Agriculture should reject applications to approve new herbicide-resistant crops, and EPA should deny registration of herbicides for use on them, unless or until appropriate restrictions are enacted to ameliorate their harms to milkweeds, monarchs and pollinators.”