I vote for Honesty.

I realize that many of you groan when you see another posting about GE or GMO or GM crops. I completely understand. You’ve already made up your mind, in whatever direction you chose. That’s fine. I just think that this is critically important stuff. It is already affecting the national economy, with countries banning the foods that we sell. I think it is obvious that it is going to be unimaginably difficult to stamp out any crop that we later decide is dangerous. And many of the alleged problems with genetically engineered crops, like they are killing all the bees, or animals that eat them cannot reproduce after the third-generation, sound like I may not live long enough to see the problems really be appreciated. But, at least personally, I would like to leave the planet habitable for future generations.

A good friend of mine sent me an MIT article about how, genetically engineered foods COULD be very important in feeding the growing number of people. They COULD be very important in feeding people when there is a major climate change. They COULD be very important in all sorts of ways. I thought that everyone already knew that.

I suspect that I’ve not communicated clearly enough, that I have no problem with new technology, only because it is new. On the contrary, most people that know me, realize that I’m perhaps too eager to learn about new technology. This gives me thousands of hours of frustration at the computer, for example.

The thing I have a problem with is lying. It is my considered opinion, and if you’ve never heard of an example of this I can send you many, that sometimes people lie in order to make more money. Sometimes scientists lie because they believe that millions of dollars are at stake. Sometimes scientists lie because of their reputation. Sometimes they lie because they have jumped to the wrong conclusion and want to prove that wrong conclusion.

The whole basis of the scientific method, requires brutal honesty. Science is pretty much pointless without it. There are thousands of ways that people can lie with statistics. They can just tell you the wrong numbers in the first place. They can cherry pick the data so that you get the wrong idea, even though you are looking at valid numbers. There are countless ways.

Janet and I were invited to sing at the Kennedy Center, in Washington DC during the holidays one year. We sang, and we received a standing ovation. If you’ve ever heard me try to sing, that may sound pretty improbable. But it is absolutely true.

The part I left out was that we were in the audience.The audience was pretty much full. The people on the stage invited the audience to join them in several numbers. We all did so. It was broadcast over the radio live, and replayed twice later. I even have a recording of it. At the end of our singing, the people on stage ask that we all give ourselves a standing ovation. We did.

But, you probably already knew what I met without the example. We must have honesty in research, or we are wasting everyone’s time, money and even killing people.

I and many of my friends are interested in what is a healthy diet. Talk about conflicting data! I think it surpasses religion in its ability to get otherwise bright people, absolutely furious at how stupid the person they’re talking to is. I have not seen airtight evidence on anything that I can think of regarding diet. I assume that most of the confusion, comes from honest mistakes made by sincere people. But in countless areas of science, I believe that people deliberately cook the books.

I hope that’s crystal clear.

I also hope that is crystal clear, that creating new breeds or strains, means that we need to learn all of the new characteristics that have been created.

Some say that a major factor in the fall of the Roman Empire, was that they discovered that wine brewed and lead lined vats, tasted sweeter. They had no idea about lead poisoning. It is one of many poisons that takes a while to be noticed.

Let me quote a little text from the end of the MIT article:

“One advantage of using genetic engineering to help crops adapt to these sudden changes is that new varieties can be created quickly. Creating a potato variety through conventional breeding, for example, takes at least 15 years; producing a genetically modified one takes less than six months.* Genetic modification also allows plant breeders to make more precise changes and draw from a far greater variety of genes, gleaned from the plants’ wild relatives or from different types of organisms.** Plant scientists are careful to note that no magical gene can be inserted into a crop to make it drought tolerant or to increase its yield—even resistance to a disease typically requires multiple genetic changes. But many of them say genetic engineering is a versatile and essential technique.

“It’s an overwhelmingly logical thing to do,” says Jonathan Jones, a scientist at the Sainsbury Laboratory in the U.K. and one of the world’s leading experts on plant diseases. The upcoming pressures on agricultural production, he says, “[are] real and will affect millions of people in poor countries.” He adds that it would be “perverse to spurn using genetic modification as a tool.”

Of course it is logical. But it is also logical and absolutely required, that we know what the consequences of doing it are. I hope you agree that is absolutely logical that we need honest and thorough testing. Does it really kill off the bees? There are lots of allegations that many large retail chain stores in America, are selling potted plants that have been treated with pesticides that are known to kill off bees. It seems like that would be very common. If something kills insects, bugs, spiders, pretty much anything, then it’s logical that it might also kill bees. A lot of the pesticides are made from nerve gas, that is also used to kill humans. I would prefer to buy organic food when I can, because everyone knows that many of the pesticides that we use, have harmful effects, in very small quantities. I mean, you could probably keep bugs from eating the plant if you put a quarter of an inch of mayonnaise all the surface of the plant the tops and bottoms of every leaf. All around all the stem. But that create some new problems. So you use some chemical that you just need a little dab. And you try hard to make it only detrimental to the past that you’re trying to deal with. But, almost everything has collateral damage.

If the only problem with genetically engineered corn, is that animals that eat it cannot reproduce after the third-generation. Then, that does not bother me very much. I went to some trouble to not reproduce. Which also means that I’m not going to create any more generations. So, what do I care?

And, those of you who, will hopefully last longer than I do, may be glad to see the population problem no longer be a problem of excess. But a total lack of mammals, including humans, might be considered a problem to some? Certainly to some of the mammals.

* I wonder how long it takes to prove what the countless repercussions of, say putting slime mold genes in corn, might do?

** I will make a wild assed guess that the old fashioned way of breeding plants has fewer surprises that inserting genes from bacteria or fish that glow in the dark. But, I would be happy to lok at HONEST research. That is also peer reviewed.

So, to sum it up, I’m extremely frightened by what I believe is compelling evidence, that scientific method is being changed into intentional lying. And that trillions of dollars, and billions of people can be affected by this sort of lying.

I’m equally upset by people who say that, “Of course genetically engineering is safe!” And nearly as upset by people who say that it is not. I believe. No, I am absolutely certain, that we need HONEST data about all of the possible ways that we can be affected. This includes, but is by no means limited to, what it does to bees, and what it does to reproduction.

If you have already jumped to a conclusion without any data, please don’t let me find out. I much prefer to think that my friends are intelligent.

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2 thoughts on “I vote for Honesty.

  1. Hi Dave – I really appreciate your postings! I just read that Whole Foods is dropping Chobani Greek Yogurt because they use milk from cow that are fed GMO grains. I don’t think any of us realize how far in both directions the food chain is contaminated with GMO.

    Also, you’re absolutely correct about information from the scientists and corporations. Your example of your singing performance reminded me of the ending of the movie “Contact”…..to have to be open that there may be another interpretation.

    Panel member: Doctor Arroway, you come to us with no evidence, no record, no artifacts. Only a story that to put it mildly strains credibility.

    Ellie Arroway: Is it possible that it didn’t happen? Yes. As a scientist, I must concede that, I must volunteer that.

    Michael Kitz: Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You admit that you have absolutely no physical evidence to back up your story.

    Ellie Arroway: Yes.

    Michael Kitz: You admit that you very well may have hallucinated this whole thing.

    Ellie Arroway: Yes.

    Michael Kitz: [standing, angrily] Then why don’t you simply withdraw your testimony, and concede that this “journey to the center of the galaxy,” in fact, never took place!

    Ellie Arroway: Because I can’t. I… had an experience… I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real!

    Your information on GMOs is showing you information that is just as real – but different than what big ag-business wants us to believe. Keep up the investigations, I’m learning so much.
    Luv from me and Lily!

  2. There is another aspect: the strong-arm tactics of Monsanto and other GMO-proponents. Not only lying, but suing into oblivion the livelihoods of people who have discovered patented GMO plants growing in their otherwise organic fields.
    There is yet another aspect: monoculture leaves us open to disaster. Think Irish Potato Famine: a nation (a world) largely dependent on a single crop for sustenance.
    And another: monoculture depletes the soil. Organic farming enriches the soil.
    If you think Michael Moore is just a radical whacko, read “1493” by Charles Mann. If you are not terrified for the future, you are not paying attention.
    On the other hand, the earth survived the destruction of the dinosaurs, maybe it will survive the destruction of mammals.

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