Neil deGrasse Tyson Vs. Big Organic’s Crusade Against GMOs Explained

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Science LiteracyLast week, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson told people in a short video to “chill out” on the subject of GMOs and as a result, a lot of folks got really upset. As I wrote in response to the initial outrage, I am fully aware that Dr. Tyson is an astrophysicist, not a genetic biologist – but I am sure he still has a better grasp of science than most of those who are angry with his remarks.

Dr. Tyson finally responded in a followup post on his Facebook page on August 3rd, addressing the butthurt from those who probably had no issues with anything else he had ever said – right up until he stuck their sacred cow in the grinder. I’m pretty sure if he had said the opposite, the anti-GMO crowd would have loudly proclaimed him an expert, because that’s how bias confirmation works.

The two following quotes are the most important out of his statement:

“Had I given a full talk on this subject, or if GMOs were the subject of a sit-down interview, then I would have raised many nuanced points, regarding labeling, patenting, agribusiness, monopolies, etc. I’ve noticed that almost all objections to my comments center on these other issues.”

You obviously can’t cover the entire subject of GMOs in a two-minute and twenty-second video. It is entirely a far too complex issue to do that. However, many of the anti-GMO activists want to make it a “GMO bad! Monsanto is trying to kill us all! Organics good!” type brief talking point, because that’s how Big Organic operates their advertising and PR campaign.

“If your objection to GMOs is the morality of selling non-prerennial seed stocks, then focus on that. If your objection to GMOs is the monopolistic conduct of agribusiness, then focus on that. But to paint the entire concept of GMO with these particular issues is to blind yourself to the underlying truth of what humans have been doing — and will continue to do — to nature so that it best serves our survival. That’s what all organisms do when they can, or would do, if they could. Those that didn’t, have gone extinct.”

The various areas of concern with GMOs that Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson lays out are worth talking about, but those are mostly ignored in the current anti-GMO hysteria. Rather than address these, Big Organic’s marketing seems to push the image of Monsanto as some sort of Evil Empire that they’re nobly taking on. It is very important to point out that just like the companies that sell genetically modified products, the organic industry is also for profit, and they’re both competing for market share. The current crusade to force companies to label products made from GMOs? It seems to be part of a strategy to tip the scales further in the favor of Big Organic.

Anyhow, I find it pretty ridiculous and hypocritical that some of the same people who claimed that he wasn’t qualified to speak on the subject due to his area of scientific study also consider one Vani Hari – also known as “Food Babe” – to be an expert on the subject of GMOs and nutrition. What’s her degree in? Computer science. Yet, she has almost 700,000 fans on her Facebook page and attracts millions of viewers monthly on her website. On foodbabe.com she pushes books, diet plans and other products when she’s not off taking another vacation in Fiji, thanks to the small fortune she makes off the gullible people who gobble up the nonsense and products she peddles.

The author of the blog “Puff The Mutant Dragon – Adventures In Science” explains:

Food Babe’s blog is frustrating to read because she’s writing about a subject with so much potential and yet so much of it is wrong. It really would be fascinating to discuss in detail all the stuff that’s in your food. There’s a lot of things in there you don’t know or think about. Take this business with the epichlorohydrin-polyamide resins; or the natural carcinogens produced by molds on moldy peanuts. Those are things you probably didn’t know, right? It would be very cool for someone to go out there and blog about all this kind of stuff; take a close look at what’s really in your food and how it’s made. It would be a real eye-opener. Unfortunately, that’s not what Food Babe is doing.

She’s just feeding her four million followers more of the same old Mother Nature Knows Best crap — if it’s not natural, don’t buy it. And that’s why her blog is such a seamless blend of interesting facts and mindless ignorance. That’s why she can simultaneously slam polyamide-epichlorohydrin in tea bag manufacture (which might be something worth criticizing) and the flu vaccine (which has been extensively tested for safety and is certainly not). (Source)

So not only is  Ms. Hari’s degree not in biology or chemistry, it isn’t in nutritional science either. But all of these people somehow think she’s qualified to speak on the subject, and Dr. Tyson isn’t. Some even went so far to accuse Dr. Tyson of being a paid shill for Monsanto (while completely overlooking the fact that Ms. Hari is a shill for Big Organic), which apparently is the only company that they can think of that does genetic engineering modification. In case you’re wondering, Monsanto is only one out of six major companies that specialize in it.

I’ve been accused of singling out “Food Babe,” but right now she seems to be the new rising star for Big Organic, and a prime example of those who are trying to cash in on the organic boom. Especially so since Mike Adams, the founder of Natural News, is looking at potential legal trouble for allegedly creating a fake Holocaust-themed site in an effort to smear his critics. This isn’t a matter of people who dislike the business practices of Monsanto and other seed companies and are trying to preserve biodiversity. My beef with her and others is based on the fact that they use misinformation and scare tactics to sell their own products rather than address patented technology, corporate responsibility and other legitimate concerns.

These aren’t crusaders for food safety, these are opportunists who prey on the easily hoodwinked and encourage them to ignore science. We can have a discussion on the real issues with both genetically modified and organic foods, but not so long as people reject science and embrace fear instead.


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  • Reynard Vulpes

    Big Organic? You must be joking. The Big Agra can and does stomp out opponents, including Organic, with considerable ease.

    Some of the most well know names in billionaires are being Big Agra. Try googling Koch and Monsanto as a single phrase.

    I’ve not had time to read Tyson’s comments, and I do respect his approach to science, so far, but my bet is he has not really dug into the science AND the scientists who support them. Most of the “science,” comes from Big Ag Industry money. Monsanto even bought up the major research organization that is study the Bee Death syndrome, ostensibly to further the research, but they and their products are a number one level suspect in Bee Deaths. And no research is forthcoming from the source since they bought it out.

    They organic farming movement has always had a fringe element, just as other “movements,” but they have also had an uphill battle with Big Agra for a very long time … in fact from their start.

    I trust, if Tyson is really interested and not just talking off the top of his head, he’ll dig further into the science and find out the facts. We shall see.

    By the way, do not make the mistake of lumping the nutritional extremist marketing mind crowd in with Organics. They are NOT the same even though the former likes to pick up the latter as a cause and use it to market.

    Organic farming is a grass roots movement that got preempted by “bigness,” ambitions and pushed for federal certification standards, and it all went downhill from there.

    You need to understand the Big Organics people are the same people as Big Agra, or their close incestuous cousins. If you are going to be rigorous in your journalism try doing a little more in depth study of the issue you are writing about. The history of the Organic movement (I’ve gardened organic since WWII, before the word existed) will tell you I am correct.

    You are viewing those incestuous cousins as though they are opponents. It’s a hoax, a ploy, to move Big Agra forward yet again.

    Hope you don’t ignore my challenge. You will see just what I’ve said. Best wishes.

    • Brian

      There are 28 Billion in sales for Organic as of 2010 and I’m sure much higher today. If you don’t think that is big business you are being naive.

      • Sterling Ericsson

        It was over $35 billion last year.

      • Jim

        It was over 75 million last year.

      • Mackinz

        28 billion in 2010 for Big Organic versus 15 billion in 2013 for Monsatan.

        Obviously, Monsatan has more cash to toss around. 😛

      • Nick Price

        I don’t believe you because your facts don’t fit into my preconceived world-view.

      • Joseph A Borg

        “You need to understand the Big Organics people are the same people as Big Agra, or their close incestuous cousins”

        which part of the above quote is it that you don’t understand?

    • Vidman

      If you really think Tyson hasn’t looked into this subject, you really don’t know science. See Mackinz post.

    • Nathan Frigerio

      before the word existed) Organic has existed for a long time. I dare anyone out there to give me an example of inorganic food.

  • Nancy

    Mr. Schewitz, You must not think much of people, if you think that everyone against GMOs is just fearful or have been hoodwinked. I’ll say again: You need to do some research before spouting off about GMOs. Then, you might still support GMOs but, at least you could make informed comments, as opposed to just mocking people, who have researched and come to conclusions about the many issues involved. I read articles on Forward Progressives for information & opinion, not uninformed dissing & mockery. I’m really disappointed at your display of ignorance.

    • androphiles

      Hear, hear!

  • Bea

    I don’t reject science — but do believe that GMO have not be proven safe by science. Nor do I trust the science according to Monsanto and the other six. They seem to have tried (successfully so far) to diene your right to know what we are eating by not allowing labeling. They have spent millions of dollars to stop labeling. One must ask WHY?? If it is so safe.

    • mindbomb2000

      Why? Because it doesn’t matter if GMOs ARE safe (which they are), what matters is that the public THINKS they are unsafe. You would see a product on the shelf with a GMO label on it and you would not buy it because you THINK it’s unsafe. Just as when you see ORGANIC on a product, you are willing to pay more because you THINK it is healthier. Understand?

    • Mackinz

      “but do believe that GMO have not be proven safe by science”

      Science cannot prove anything safe. It can only go so far as “safe enough”, as it is physically impossible to test any and all scenarios. As is, you’re holding GMOs to a standard that nothing is held to.

      Aside from that, numerous scientific organizations have stated, based on the scientific evidence, that GMOs pose no known unique risks to human health beyond the risks that are normally associated with eating food. The science has been done:

      http://www [dot] skeptiforum [dot] org/richard-green-on-the-scientific-consensus-and-gmos/

      Who don’t you trust it?

      “Nor do I trust the science according to Monsanto and the other six.”

      Oh, I see. An anti-corporate type. Okay, let’s see if we should worry about industry-funded studies:

      http://www [dot] biofortified [dot] org/2014/02/industry-funded-gmo-studies/

      “They seem to have tried (successfully so far) to diene your right to know what we are eating by not allowing labeling.”

      According to the.science of the matter, GMOs pose no unique health risks and all are essentially identical to their non-engineered counterparts, so whether or not something is a “GMO” is, effectively, objectively useless information.

      As such, if you have a “right to know” that allows for the mandatory disclosure of useless information, I demand my “right to know” the sexual orientation of the people who have handled my food before purchasing.

      Putting aside the joking, the mandatory disclosure has no objective purpose. No one gets sick from eating “GMOs” and “GMO” is not an ingredient. Wanting to avoid “GMOs” has no objective purpose, and is, in effect, an ideological stance. The labeling of products produced with “GMOs” would then be an ideological one, and no.other ideological label is mandatory. As “Organic” and “Non-GMO” already exist, mandatory labeling for “GMOs” is pointless.

      Also, I’d love to see a constitutional citation for the “right to know” that is not superceded by the 1st Amendment.

      “They have spent millions of dollars to stop labeling. One must ask WHY?? If it is so safe.”

      Oh, I don’t know. Maybe they want to prevent the ideological scarlet lettering of their product? Maybe whether or not something is a “GMO” is a useless distinction?

      No, it’s totally your idea, what with all of its conspiracy appeal and logical fallacies.

      • Karolina de Honestis

        Are you saying that the US should NOT be a free market capitalist society where the consumers get to decide what products from which corporations and producers they wish to spend their hard earned money on?

        Instead we should be forced by corporations in cahoots with politicians to buy products we do not want, because we are worried about pesticides impact on our eco system, pollinators, safety, diseases, nutrition etcetera. Is that really democratic?

      • Jim

        The consumer has the right to buy or not buy anything they want. What the consumer does not get to do is to force anyone to label a food product to put a label on for anything other then nutritional or safety reasons. There is nothing to show a difference in nutritional value or a safety concern of GMO products so they don’t get a label. Any more then if the product was picked by undocumented workers, under a harvest moon, using horse pulled tractors or john deere tractors.

        If the consumer does not wish to buy a product that contains GMO products its the consumers responsibility to find products that do not contain GMOs. Just like if I want to buy a car that is Union made its on me to find what cars are made in a Union Shop.

      • Karolina de Honestis

        In order to being able to practise our capitalistic free market right to buy what we want and refuse to buy what we do not wish to sponsor with our money, we need and must be able to make informed choices, to do that we need to know what the products are made of, how they are made etcetera as President Kennedy proclaimed in 1962 with the Consumer Bill of Rights, which include the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard.

        GMO-labelling is about safety, and since there are no long term objective clinical unbiased studies of these crops (and the toxins they are sprayed with continually) and their impact on our environment and our health, we have the right to have comprehensive visible labelling so that we can decide not to purchase and eat GMOs if we do not wish it. Either these GMO corporations agree to labelling or they will have to sign contracts with all of the governments in the world that if adverse effects should appear in our environment, our eco systems and our bodies then they have to pay for each and every cost that has come from that – clean up, restoration, medical bills etcetera.

        GMO labelling is about democracy, many people are sceptical regarding or even flat out against GMOs. It is their democratic right to not be force fed these products by covert actions and mode of operations and non existent labelling.

      • Jim

        Then labeling food that was picked by undocumented farmhands is democracy. Its not fair to Xenophobes or those against undocumented laborers to not have this label. Then labeling food by what phase of the moon is democracy because its important to the moonbeam population.
        There are long term studies on GMO. Because you are too lazy to look for them does not mean they exist. I know of several but I am not about to do your homework for you. But, hint you can look at my comments and find links.

      • Benjamin Edge

        ” the toxins they are sprayed with continually”

        And you claim to have a practical knowledge of agriculture? Give me a break.

        What’s the deal, does every product with GM content have to have a flashing red light on it or you are afraid you will be swayed with the pretty packaging and lapse against your religious reliance on organic? With grocery stores falling all over themselves to label everything they can find as organic or GMO-free? How helpless that must feel.

      • Mackinz

        “Are you saying that the US should NOT be a free market capitalist society where the consumers get to decide what products from which corporations and producers they wish to spend their hard earned money on?”

        Spend it on “organic” or “non-GMO” crap, then. Nowhere in my comment did I care what people spent their money on in a store. Rather, my entire comment was contradicting the claims regarding the “necessity” of mandatory GE labeling.

        “Instead we should be forced by corporations in cahoots with politicians to buy products we do not want, because we are worried about pesticides impact on our eco system, pollinators, safety, diseases, nutrition etcetera?”

        Then buy “organic” or “non-GMO”.

        “Is that your idea of a democratic free market capitalist society?”

        My idea of a “democratic free market capitalist society” does not involve government-mandated labeling on produce that was genetically engineered without a valid objective reason.

        “If so, please allow me to suggest that you read up on capitalist philosophy and ideology. It does not stand for capitalists being free to manipulate and control the market, while undermining and destroying our democracy. It is about the peoples ability to weed out the products and/or companies and corporations we do not want, and not about corporations force feeding us their products by means of non-disclosure.”

        Buy “non-GMO” you ideological moron. Don’t force your ideological stance on everyone else just because you’re lazy.

        Oh, and try to actually read my post before you spout talking points as if they have legitimacy.

      • Karolina de Honestis

        I have been buying only organic and non-gmo for more than a decade. I only eat organic/wild food. I also only buy organic hygiene producs, make-up, detergents etcetera, I buy clothing made from organic or recycled materials, vintage accessories and so on and so forth. This is not about me being lazy, this is about the consumers right to know how their food is produced and what it contains. All produce and products should also have mandatory nutrition as well as toxic content-labelling, where it should be continuously tested and approximate herbicide, pesticide and other toxin levels disclosed so that consumers realize what a complete waste of money industrially farmed produce are, not to mention hazardous to health.

        The planet is extremely polluted, and a big reason for this is the modus operandi of industrial farming and petrochemical corporations. It’s time we put a stop to the irresponsible people that time and time again get away with toxic waste dumping, willful negligence, refusing to clean up chemical, oil and toxic waste spills etcetera.

        What exactly is your objection to GE/-GMO-labelling? Do you stand to lose monetary revenue if mandatory labelling came into practise?

      • Mackinz

        “I have been buying only organic and non-gmo for more than a decade. I only eat organic/wild food. I also only buy organic hygiene producs, make-up, detergents etcetera, I buy clothing made from organic or recycled materials, vintage accessories and so on and so forth.”

        Good. You’re crazy, but you’re dedicated.

        “This is not about me being lazy”

        You want to make your ideological viewpoint the default so you don’t have to search for specifically labeled objects.

        Yeah. Definitely not lazy.

        “this is about the consumers right to know how their food is produced and what it contains.”

        You have that right? I believe I asked before for a constitutional citation that was not superceded by the 1st Amendment? I guess an assertion of that right is more important than supporting evidence.

        “All produce and products should also have mandatory nutrition as well as toxic content-labelling, where it should be continuously tested and approximate herbicide, pesticide and other toxin levels disclosed so that consumers realize what a complete waste of money industrially farmed produce are, not to mention hazardous to health.”

        All produce? Ahaha… yeah, ideological and crazy. Accurate GMO labeling alone would cost billions in farmer infrastructure… you’re asking for trillions in investment because you want it.

        Hoo, boy.

        You think “organic” food is expensive now? Wait until your “organic” produce has to be segregated to ensure whether or not the individual “organic” farmer used rotenone or not, bacillus thuringiensis or not, or copper sulfate or not.

        Blind ideologues never consider the setbacks of their actions.

        “What exactly is your objection to GE/-GMO-labelling? Do you stand to lose monetary revenue if mandatory labelling came into practise?”

        My opposition to GMO labeling comes from that I’m not a blind ideologue like you. I don’t care whether or not something is created from “organic”, “non-GMO” or “GMO” products because, based on the evidence, there is zero difference besides price. I’ve explained the logic behind this many times, but I will not do so for someone so far off the deep end that they buy “organic hygiene producs, make-up, [and] detergents”.

        If you were truly concerned with anything you claim you were, you’d have realized that the direct effects of your desires would result in a drastic increase of monoculture, a reduction in pesticide variety, and an increase in pesticide use and industrial farming to counteract these limiting factors. And that’s just the farming sector. You’re really your own worst enemy here.

        You’ve been manipulated by organic propaganda into thinking it is some magical panacea that will save the world. It won’t. Period.

        You know absolutely nothing about agriculture, or the best way to reduce its environmental impact.

        Also, shill gambit.

        Bye-bye now.

      • Karolina de Honestis

        I have years of practical experience in farming, I have also studied geography and natural science and therefore have plenty of knowledge and experience in questions regarding agriculture and environment. This isn’t about opinions or ideology, it is about facts – and the fact is that industrial farming is detrimental to both our environment and our health. We need to evolve from and grow out of this primitive crude oil-dependent era, and move on to sustainable farming methods and clean energy. We need to evolve and adapt or our civilization will fall. You speak of money as if it has real value and should take precedence over our planet, eco system and environment, that is a true sign of being intelligence deficient.

      • Mackinz

        “We need to evolve from and grow out of this primitive crude oil-dependent era, and move on to sustainable farming methods and clean energy.”

        On this, we agree. However, “organic” farming is hardly sustainable and also will not feed the billions of people on the planet or get us through the inevitable effects of global warming. That’s what genetic engineering will help with, and the use of less environmentally-damaging pesticides thanks to genetic engineering (such as glyphosate and plant-produced Bt) is a major boon to sustainability.

        “You speak of money as if it has real value and should take precedence over our planet, eco system and environment, that is a true sign of being intelligence deficient.”

        I speak of money because ignoring it in a capitalist society is, ahem, “a true sign of being intelligence deficient”.

        I am a realist. Money is a factor in everything, especially in farming. Deal with it.

        But, hey, by all means, go buy your “organic” beauty care products. It’s not like genetically engineered microorganisms producing palm oil would help reduce environmental destruction of Palm forests and do not deserve a scarlet label.

      • androphiles

        Wow. Calling someone “crazy” just because they disagree with you is so “progressive” and enlightened. You go ahead and eat those GMOs. I won’t even return your tactic and call you crazy for it.

      • Mackinz

        I don’t pretend to be “progressive” or “enlightened”. I do, however, try to be as informed as possible and my information points to “Organic” being a form of near-religious ideology, especially in the case of a person buying toiletries that are only “Organic”. Orthorexia Nervousa, perhaps?

        Anyway, have a nice day. 🙂

  • joe blow all show

    i find it amazing that all of you “scientists” and the actual scientists completely miss the fucking point. these GMO plants are modified to be able to withstand chemicals, chemicals that would normally kill the fucking plant. these chemicals kill the plants and weeds while not harming the plant. so your food is still doused with harmful chemicals. this “engineering” is not for better food, but for better yields. the organic movement goes beyond bio engineering, its about keeping bi products of agent orange out of our food.

    • Glyphosate has been tested for toxicity since before GMOs even were released. We know it is less toxic than salt, which also kills plants btw.

    • Jim

      OK you used chemicals like 15 times in this post hate to break it to you but everything we eat is a chemical. You are going to respond something about natural chemicals and/or organics. Well all plants produce pesticides. Organic farmers use pesticides too the only difference between what they use and what conventional farmers is where the active ingredient is derived from. In the real world this difference means Organic farmers use more applications and higher doses compared to conventional farmers.
      To bring this to GMO products the whole point of Bt and RR GMO is to use less pesticides. That is right its to use less not more.
      Oh nice of you to bring up Agent Orange also. Its 2-4,D one of the most tested compounds there is and just about anyone with a lawn has it in their garage if they don’t have Round Up. Its the safe part it was the other herbicide along with Dioxins and the Avfuel that caused the problems with Agent Orange along with the military using in concentrations no one would use it at.

    • Marc D

      No, you are missing our point that GMO applies to a lot more than certain products made to be used in conjunction with a weed killer. But even the claim that Round Up in particular is going to hurt consumers of the food is weak… there really isn’t good evidence that the approved usage of these chemicals puts consumers at risk (field workers are more likely to be at risk… but in any case the subject has now moved into regulating an industrial chemical, and not genetic engineering ).

    • kurzweilfreak

      Can you define “doused” the way you think it is? Please be specific, such as ml/acre. I think if you actually did the math, you’d find that the amount of ERMERGERD CHERMERKILLS! is ridiculously miniscule.

      So tell me, what level of “dousing” do you think is typical?

  • Jim

    Thank you for this post. I am a liberal and I hate seeing this anti science nonsense from the side that is supposed to be reality based. It makes me sick seeing the cafeteria use of science by so many. You don’t get to blast those that deny Global Warming or Evolution when you ignore the science behind GMOs. What the alleged green NGO are doing is sick and has caused thousand of people to die and will kill or blind millions of kids because of their vandalism and lies just to line their pockets.
    What is just ironic is those that hate Monsanto the most (and almost always for lies about the company or standard operating procedure of every company in the field that has gone on for 86 years) make it so only Monsanto can afford to produce GMO crops. Academia can not afford the testing to go to market with a seed. Good luck for a start up to get funding with the regulatory costs.

    • androphiles

      It’s just too bad that this author chose to undercut the seriousness of his argument by labeling the opposition to GMOs “big organic.” Much of the opposition to GMOs comes not only from the organic food industry but from individuals. Such mischaracterization in itself is enough to put some people off; if you want to have a discussion you don’t attack your opponent. Of course both sides are in the wrong if/when they do it. I’m just surprised to find such careless rhetoric on a “progressive” website.

  • Juniper Bartlett

    GMOs are not the same as hybrid or natural selection.

    • kurzweilfreak

      No shit, that’s the whole point: rather than waiting for natural selection to do its thing over many multiple generations, we can precisely add or alter exactly the genes we need to to create the effects we want, without hundreds or thousands of other genes being altered in the process, and we can do it in a single generation. This is exactly the benefit and reason why genetic engineering techniques are used.

  • Ed

    You guys are sellouts… There’s no excusing GMO’s, and yes, they are evil, not only to your health, but to the environment as well… Keep messing with nature, you fools only care about profit!

    • Marc D

      The scientific consensus says otherwise. There’s no “selling out” here…there is listening to experts and making an informed decision.

  • Nathan Frigerio

    I have yet to find an inorganic food in the store. Processed anyone? American cheese, Velveeta? The Organic name itself is misleading, oh, I know what is colloquially meant by it. But, all (or most) food items are organic. Has anyone eaten a steak produced by a machine by rearranging the amino acids, atoms, etc…? NO. Since when did folks have such a hard time with crop yeilds, or fertilizing feilds? Like small corn, or big ears? Want to pay substantially more for the same thing?

  • Daen de Leon

    I have some reservations about how Neil framed his comments, namely 1) how he equates artificial selection and genetic engineering (artificial selection deliberately restricts allelic variation, while transgenic genetic engineering not only introduces novel genetic material, it does so, by definition, at novel chromosomal loci); and 2) the regulatory aspects (there has been no baseline human efficacy or safety data gathered from clinical trials, unlike in the pharma/biologics/med device approvals process, so it’s impossible to truly track longitudinal post market adverse events, for example).

    The upshot is that you can call GMO-produced foods neither dangerous nor safe; the only answer, really, is “we think they’re safe because we haven’t seen any obviously lethal side effects in the general population, but we also couldn’t identify any long term insidious side effects even if we wanted to because we don’t know what to look for”.

  • SimbaLover

    No one is addressing the problem in that there is a huge difference between genetic manipulation through selective breeding and genetically splicing poison into seeds. And trying to villify “Big Organic”?? Really? OMG how dare they try to make sure we have options and information when it comes to what we ae buying!!!! The horror!

  • Anon ymous

    Neil deGrasse Tyson

    you should know that selection from exposure is vastly different from selection from intended results. we are not ready technologically to actually do proper genetic modification of organisms. we require much better and faster simulations of whole ecosystems and genetic to biological system development in multiple exposures scenario’s. We need to be doing both parts of the natural selection, the exposure testing and selection, not just selection.

    Our feeble body’s have evolved and adapted to a specific range of chemicals (referring to all(enzymes, inorganic) we could be exposed to whether orally or through skin). It is imprudent to play on the edges now that we are conscious enough to no longer be subject to the evolution that made us have that range of tolerance and processing capability’s.

    So we may infact need more then the ability to simulate whole ecosystems with atomic accuracy to the scale of whole organisms exposed to an array of environments, we will need the ability to modify our own genes to support changes that could not achieve compromises in the intended target feature and resulting bio-chemical systems content that are not compatible with our genes and their resulting bio-chemical systems, assuming we do need lab GMO’s, for which i could argue we really dont.

    genes and their resulting bio-chemical systems will vary with varying environments.

    there is no way to actually know beforehand, the complete results of any genetic modification to an organism, results factoring time, exposure and environment in knowing the impact on itself and other systems.

    i would also argue that we are far from actually being able to pinpoint genes for specific features, heck i would go as to say it is impossible from a chaos theory perspective. Genes are used to make protein, that protein does its function with other proteins and chemicals to give rise to features. Too many feedback loops to say we understand this enough to manipulate it.

    give it more thought Neil deGrasse Tyson

    you might be dooming us all with such a great pitch for Monsanto, i can already see all the non critical thinkers (90%) appealing to it and allowing Monsanto to do what it has allowed itself to do through its various inside government positions. Ya changes nothing except the hope of people eventually waking up to the fact that current GMO is not only unsafe but potentially apocalyptic in certain scenario’s.

    • Jim

      What do you think the last 10k years of selective breeding has done?

      • Anon ymous

        what do you think that 10k years has done to our gene pool with the exposure to those selectively breeded organisms?

        you should also note that evolution has its limitations in exposure testing where we die before the full spectrum of exposures can be pursued to their conclusion. Also the limitation in time and space where we cannot be tested in every possible environments (combinations, levels and durations of exposures), also there is a allot of duplicity, commit failure and regression in evolution.

        i know you may not care for the lives of the billions of humans, but allot of us do, if you want to put your genes to the test by exposing the resulting bio-system (you) to new chemicals, do so, dont force others.

        and yes there is a risk also with eating what we have evolved to eat, the only true option would be to take diet from an engineering and systems perspective and create a custom chemical soup for each human. but atleast the food we have evolved to eat has been tested to permit a minimum of 80 or more years of life, in comparison to something that is a cocktail of proteins and chemicals created in a lab that we dont know what exposure testing our genes have accounted for.

  • KD

    Funny how you say Big Organic, like they’re pouring millions into forcing people to consume their products and have a sway in governmental policies, i. e., politics. Organics are simply what we used to call food. Now, the Monsanto folks, et al, on the other hand, are trying very hard to force their failed genetically modified products and poisons upon us, and are spending millions upon millions in the process of influencing our government into changing our water and soil quality safeguards, giving them permission to contaminate our fertile lands here in the U. S. and across the globe, without having to assume any accountability whatsoever for the dire consequences. Thousands of farmers, especially in third world countries, are being seriously sickened from the overuse of deadly pesticides; bees, butterflies and birds are being killed off; waterways are poisoned by fertilizer and pesticide run-off; and…need I say, the produce is untested, unsafe, and unwanted. None of which is designed to benefit any group of people except the shareholders of Monsanto, and the other motley crew of big agriculture, big business, big pharmacy, big banks, etc., and the government officials of FDA, EPA, USDA, . . . and the elected officials who receive monetary compensation along with other perks from these big industries’ lobbyists. Concerning the argument for GMO’s, the bottom line clearly is MONEY, not improved quality of life, not safety, and not human nor animal nor environmental welfare.

    • Jim

      Big Organic has spent millions on food labeling. Who do you think funded the signature drives in CA and WA? Who do you think lobbied for the bill in Vermont? And is currently lobbing in other states?

  • androphiles

    The article’s insistence on speaking of “big organic” as if it’s a plot mirrors the characterization of all proponents as “big pharma.” If there are good points on both sides, then neither side should need to characterize the other. Speaking of “big organic” as if it’s an enemy makes no more sense nor is any more fair than doing the opposite. The author of this article does his point of view a disservice by stooping to the same level of rhetoric.