Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I wrote an article on bt brinjal some years ago http://www.heraldofindia.com/article.php?id=441 I guess there's so much I didn't know back then. On the one hand there are life saving drugs being developed, while on the other hand, here's how businesses corrupt science 

This is downright scary. They're slowly making roads into India. 

The following link was shared by a pro-GM friend. http://www.marklynas.org/2013/01/lecture-to-oxford-farming-conference-3-january-2013/  Although I agree that GM can satiate the needs of the deprived, I only wish that was their only agenda. I present my argument against the abovementioned article (I could've elaborated even more but ran out to time and patience). The lines in read are directly quoted from the article followed by my argument in black (in some places I've just argued by calling some statements silly, owing to the common knowledge about the subject):

Author builds his credibility in the beginning of the article. If he's gonna talk about hardcore objective science, he needn't build his credibility. But ok, never mind, let's go on to read on. 

Says he was wrong about GM being harmful…(oh he already sets the mood for the article, now I know what to expect. But anyway, let’s move on)

Ehrlich Vs Borlaug à btw he conveniently omitted M S Swamynathan from the Indian Green Revolution). Borlaug’s ideology differed from Monsanto’s his aim was to feed the poor, not mint millions by obliterating the natural crops. It is Monsanto’s biggest agenda to wipe out naturally occurring seeds in the near future. This in itself is a challenge to biodiversity. Then farmers will be forced to buy seeds from such company's every season. You think this is intended to help the poor? 

Studies like these, effects of drugs, take years/decades to complete. The once commonly used medicines were found to be toxic after 10s of years. They all meant well. America is not suffering from famines, so why push GM there with such force?

CropLife suggest it costs $139 million  à What is Croplife's turnover? Let’s compare. How much do they aim to earn from this technology. How will it help the farmer to be independent and progressive? No info on that

Because we have enough to eat, we can afford to indulge our aesthetic illusions.à So? Why’re they hell bent to cure a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place? Because Europe is rich!! Population is not Europe’s problem so why obfuscate the argument?

The idea that it is healthier has been repeatedly disproved in the scientific literature….organic is much less productive, with up to 40-50% lower yieldsà  Why’s he comparing yield with “healthier”. Surely those in surfeit need worry only about health, not yield. Poor countries aren't touting “organic”, rich ones are because they can. So why does it itch GM companies. They can just go about their well-meaning work in poor countries.

Instead they talk about an ideal world where people in the west eat less meat and fewer calories overall so that people in developing countries can have more.à I don't think that’s the idea, these things are being promoted for health reasons, not to accommodate the poor.

horse and cart in 1850,à We don't eat horse and cart, they don't go into our bodies and don't affect our health directly. This seems like deliberate obfuscation.

benign herbicides like glyphosateà please watch the youtube documentary (link given in the beginning) about how benign it is. Monsanto’s already infamous for projecting dangerous things as harmless; history is witness to this. There are doctors and scientists vouching against this statement, based on real research and real patient records. This guys is not a scientist, if he so believes in peer-review then he should get this article peer reviewed by the scientific community. I assure you that if I can find such big caveats, more experienced scientists will rubbish this article in a jiffy.

Recent research by Jesse Ausubel and colleagues at Rockefeller UniversityàSure go ahead, sell GM in India, Africa and poor countries, why do you want to penetrate Europe and America so desperately? Money?

That is why I don’t know why so many of those opposing the use of technology in agriculture call themselves environmentalists.àSure forests and animals should be protected but at the same time, you can’t eat something that’s gonna gradually lead to genocide right?

This was a public health catastrophe, with the same number of deaths and injuries as were caused by Chernobyl, because E.-coli probably from animal manure infected organic beansprout seeds imported from Egypt.àSure that’s a good eg. so that doesn’t make GM any better…you can’t ignore patient records. We base our research on that, so it cannot be ignored.

In total 53 people died and 3,500 suffered serious kidney failureà Please watch the youtube documentary to get stats on the rise in number of cases of various disease due to GM over the past decades since it was introduced.

trivial risks from highly-regulated chemical pesticides and fertilisers” à He’s trying to trivialize this. Risks from Chemical pesticides and fertilizers have not been trivial.

analogous to burning books in a library before anyone has been able to read them” à Books won't directly kill/maim your children.

immoral and inhumane, depriving the needyà Again—go and give it to the needy. These people are using the needy as their poster boys, while their main aim is to pocket big money from the developed world.

help reduce overfishingà This is a proposal; in science we first propose, then show that it works and then it is accepted. What GM companies are doing is not semi-science projected as the hardcore scientific method, which implies that it is indeed pseudoscience.

So my conclusion here today is very clear: the GM debate is overà Sure, you’re the jury and the executioner. A scientist would never ever ever say such a horrible thing.

never been a single substantiated case of harmà So the doctors, patients and scientists crying foul with lucid records of the harm are lying?

more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM foodà Such comparisons are drawn by airline companies as well. Guess what…not many survive aircrashes. And here’s the thing, GM can be good, some of it must be good but to tout it as awesome, much-needed and the only way, is not scientific. Science accounts for everything, even results that have come to light just once, everything has to be explained (like why did it happen once in a particular case). 

more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM foodà That’s a blatant lie. Please watch the Youtube documentary I mentioned in the beginning of the article to see what exactly I mean.

blight-resistant potato would save farmers from doing 15 fungicide sprays per seasonàDeliberate obfuscation. The author deliberately omits the reason for such apparent reduced fungicide use. The reason is that the fungicide is being produced inside the potato itself! This is not rocket science! The life cycle of a potato production may just be one year BUT the effects on humans can/will/do linger for years. Please watch the documentary on how this happens. Please see animal test trial that unequivocally prove the dangers. If there’s an ideological issue, it’s with the author, who is hell-bent to skew facts and project them as reality.

potato famine in the mid 19th century…But thanks to the Irish Green Party, this is not to beàand “medieval superstition as a strategic imperative” again he’s rousing emotions to prove his point.

India has rejected Bt brinjal, even though it would reduce insecticide applications in the field, and residues on the fruità Bt brinjal has Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacteria) toxin genes, produced the toxin inside the brinjal, therefore external application is reduced. Bro with some normalization, it is equivalent to having a toxin in each and every cell of the brinjal from its core to its skin…you think that’s not dangerous? A good scientific test would be to calculate how much toxin does each brinjal produce and check the lethal dosing of this in mice or other animals. Why doesn't the billion dollar strong industry carry out such a test? They go the distance to suppress the results of such research (please watch the documentary to see how a senior scientist lost his job of 35 years, when he did so).

supposed “health risksà the health risks aren't “supposed”, there are patient records and scientific evidence that GM companies suppress.

suffocating avalanche of regulations à by saying this, GM companies are behaving worse than the greedy pharma industry. So they're saying this shouldn't be regulated? That’s a dead giveaway about their intentions.

integrate nitrogen fixing capabilities into major food crops, starting with maizeàSure this is a good thing but don't deliberately mislead us that this is should be considered the same as crops like BT brinjal, BT maize etc. that produce toxins in every cell of their bodies. Not all GM are the same. They need to be thoroughly studied by third party researchers, they need to be understood and definitely regulated, so that we can know which ones are good and risk free.

international myth-bustingà This is hypocrisy. They suppress independent research into GM with full force.

Norman Borlaug is dead now, but I think we honour his memory and his visionà There you go, another emotional support. I’m sure Borlaug though only about poor in a well-meaning way. Not to capture and enslave farmers around the world.

farmers should be free to choose what kind of technologies they want to adoptà Sure they should but they should be equally well-informed of both the choices; all the pros and cons. So should the public.

you don't have the right to do is to stand in the way of others....Farmers who understand the pressures of a growing population and a warming world...àThis is downright amusing and silly.

…celebrity chefs to the US foodies to the peasant groups of Indiaà thanks for your respect for the Indians sire. By now you've gone completely subjective, irrational and the bigotry is well reflected in your words.

But you must know by now that they are not supported by scienceà Neither are you sire.

get on with feeding the world sustainablyà I wish that was the primary aim of the present-day GM companies. I wish Norman Borlaug was alive and objectively listened to both sides of the story.

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