• Nobel laureate denounces GMOs’ demonizing

    This is how you kick off a biotech convention:

    On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Medicine Richard J. Roberts accused the political interests of some parties, especially environmentalists, of “demonizing” GM foods when there is no scientific evidence of their health prejudices and they “are a solution to combat hunger in the world”.

    Roberts, who inaugurated on Monday a Biotechnology convention in Havana, said “there is not a single scientific school in the world that finds genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be dangerous“.

    Roberts recalled that the lack of food is one of the greatest challenges humanity will be facing in the coming years, “greater than wars or diseases”, with the expected increase in population, which only affect the countries developing, not the developed ones.

    About the campaign to demonize these organisms, Roberts said those messages come mainly from the European Union, which has banned such crops as part of a “political strategy” to prevent multinationals like Monsanto to control the distribution of food in its territory.

    “It’s very dangerous, even tragic,” Roberts said, because they are also sending that message to developing countries where they do need GM crops to meet the food demand of their inhabitants.

    The Nobel blamed green parties and environmental organizations such as Greenpeace of leading the current of anti-GMO opinion, while “millions of people still die from lack of food”.

    “It should be considered a crime against humanity and should face trial against international tribunals for it”, said the scientist who won the Nobel in 1993 for his work on the introns, DNA fragments that contain genetic information. “We need more science within the political and less politics in the world of science”, he added.

    That the complaint is made in Cuba is even more curious — the Castro regime may well be a nightmare, but even they can distinguish between the technology and the business model, to the point there’s GMO research being done in Cuba.

    And Roberts could have gone further: the setting was more than ideal for expressing that such unscientific ideological agenda is at the service of the ‘organic’ industry economic interests because, to them, GMOs are a threat to their business model — c’mon, what’s sold as resistance to laissez-faire capitalism, actually is nothing more than propaganda to get rid of the competition and ensure a monopoly on the market.

    (Image: Toffee Maky via photopin cc)

    Category: Skepticism and Science

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    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • mem_somerville

      Rich Roberts has said that before, about going to the International Court of Justice. I’d quit my job to help with that if he ever does that.

      And very nice–another Nobel Prize winner agreed and retweeted you: https://twitter.com/barjammar/status/541727558081859584

    • Way to go David! Nice job pointing out that Roberts could have gone further by identifying the “organic” industry as the cause for all fear of GMOs. My question for you is, why do you think people like Richard Roberts consistently fail to identify the organic industry by name?

      • Hi @mischapopoff:disqus, thank you!

        I really don’t know. My best guess is they don’t know; maybe they are not aware of it or they’re not interested in finding out the ulterior motives.

        Or maybe they drank the ‘organic’ kool-aid narrative, in which this is a David-vs-Goliath fight; with David having lousy arguments.

        GMO advocates are already in the cross hairs of ‘organic’/naturist industry, so we could say it isn’t fear. I’ll go with unawareness of this whole thing being a scam plotted by a huge industry which has painted itself as some kind of farmers movement.

        Who wouldn’t support a bunch of good ol’ farmers?

        • I have some rather disturbing news for you David.

          GMO executives are all well aware that there is no such thing as “contamination” of organic crops by GMOs. But they don’t want to cite the rules for organic production that organic stakeholders wrote for themselves because they believe it would be mean-spirited to do so. I kid you not. Many of them have told me so.

          It’s sad but true my friend. GMO executives are the worst enemies of progress in GMO crop technology right now.

          • Please tell me you’re kidding.

            I don’t know what’s worse: that all of them think that, that they put organic business above public health, that they think having someone play by the rules is mean spirited or that they don’t show any consideration towards their own business (and their employees, and science, and research, and being able to feed more people).

            • Sadly David, in the minds of GMO executives, they feel they’re protecting their businesses by conceding a bit to organic activists. It’s the same mistake Obama is making with Iran.

              As for putting organic business above public health, yes, that is astonishing. But how else would you describe the fact that officials at the USDA never bother to ensure manure is being properly composted before being applied to an organic crop for human consumption?
              http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/06/organic-hepatitis-a-outbreak/#.VKs5apXwuM-

            • I think the USDA and regulation agencies have all drunk the Kool-Aid of the natural fallacy.

            • Yes, it was always only a matter of time before enough anti-EVERYTHING activists with degrees in sociology and sustainability worked their way into the upper echelons of the USDA. Now the only thing standing between these activists and the American farmer is the consumer.

            • So… what to do? If not even GMO businessmen are interested in giving GMOs a fighting chance, what now?

            • Mock them, ceaselessly. Sooner or later a handful of them will be shamed into taking a stand in the name of science. Then all of them will follow suit.

    • Brian Sandle

      At the drop by drop rate GMO are being developed, sometimes with one drop evaporating before the next arrives, I doubt GMOs will be ready to avert hunger. Conventional breeding is faster, finding salt tolerant rice &c. In the recent Intelligence Squared debate, Monsanto’s Robert Fraley admitted GMOs are only one tool and Monsanto are spending twice as much on conventional work as GMO work. I have to say that in a number of conflicts a trick is to accuse the opposition of things you are doing yourself. Further there is always the strong conflict between responsibility to shareholders vs responsibility to public good. More people are learning to see through that. Is Richard J Roberts up to date?

      Richard J. Roberts

      • GMOs are a tool, a great tool and keeping people away from its input is criminal, even if that tool alone won’t feed the whole world by itself.

    • Dan Raikov

      So poor little Monsanto wants to ply their innocent little trades in Europe, but the big bad nasty Europeans won’t let them? Aww, diddums.

      • Aww, strawman, the favorite rethorical weapon of people without arguments!

    • Dan Raikov

      I’ve always wondered why the Monsanto logo is designed the way it is. Wouldn’t a drawing of a deformed baby be more appropriate?

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