4 meaningless words: toxin, natural, organic, and GMO

News articles and blog posts are often full of buzzwords that are heavy on emotional impact but light on substance, and for scientific topics such as nutrition, health, medicine, and agriculture, four of the most common buzzwords are “toxins,” “natural,” “organic,” and “GMO.” These words are used prolifically and are typically stated with clear implications (“toxin” and “GMO” = bad; “natural” and “organic” = good). The problem is that these words are poorly defined and constantly misused. Their definitions are so arbitrary and amorphous that they are functionally meaningless. In other words, they do not add anything useful to a discussion without first attaching a list of qualifiers to them. They are often used in a way that shifts them into the category of what are referred to as “weasel words,” meaning that their use gives the impression that the author said something concrete and meaningful, when in fact the statement was a null sentence that lacked any real substance. The point of this post is, therefore, to dissect the usage of these words, and explain why they are so lacking in meaning as well as why their usage is often misleading and deceptive.

To be clear, when I say that a word is meaningless, I mean that the word is functionally meaningless, rather than semantically meaningless (i.e., the word may have a clear definition, but that definition is so arbitrary that using the word does not add any meaningful content to a statement, and it is not useful for making decisions or assessing the risks and benefits of the thing being described).

Note: Yes, I know that “GMO” is technically an acronym initialism not a word. Deal with it.


“Toxins”
Our society seems to be obsessed with “toxins.” The internet is full of purveyors of woo selling everything from expensive fruit cleanses to “earthing” mats, all with the intended purpose of ridding your body of vaguely defined “toxins.” The problem is simply that there is no such thing as a “toxin.” All matter is made of chemicals (excluding subatomic particles for a minute), and essentially all chemicals are safe at a low enough dose and toxic at a high enough dose (i.e., the dose makes the poison). So there are toxic doses not toxic chemicals. Even water becomes lethally toxic at a high enough dose (Garigan and Ristedt 1999). So this idea that something is going to rid your body of “toxins” doesn’t make any sense, because the chemicals themselves are not “toxins,” and they only become toxic at a high enough dose. Take formaldehyde, for example. I often hear people talk about it as a “toxin,” but the reality is that it is an inevitable bi-product of normal biological processes. So not only is it in many fruits and vegetables, but it is actually produced by your body! The chemical itself is not dangerous, but it can become dangerous at a high enough dose.

To be clear, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pay attention to what we put into our bodies. Of course we should, but we need to evaluate chemicals based on the dose at which they become toxic, not simply based on whether or not they are present. Further, we need to always carefully define exactly which chemicals we are talking about, rather than using the vague and amorphous term “toxin,” because any chemical will become a “toxin” at a high enough dose.

 Side note: Your body is wonderfully equipped with a liver and kidneys which do a fantastic job of “detoxing” you and keeping chemicals at a safe level. “Detox” supplements/treatments are total nonsense.

Addendum (16-Aug-16): It should be noted that the word “toxin” does have an actual biological meaning in the context of chemicals that are released by microscopic organisms. These are often toxic to individual cells at incredibly lo doses because a cell itself is so small. So when I talked about “toxins” in the post, I was referring to the notion that certain chemicals are automatically dangerous for you as an organism, rather than on a cell by cell basis.

 

 “Natural”
The definition of “natural” seems obviously to be, “found in nature,” but that’s actually a lot more ambiguous and arbitrary than it sounds. First, let’s deal with why this definition is arbitrary, and the best way to explain that is by talking about chemical compounds. Everything around you is made of chemicals (including you), and in chemistry, a compound is simply the combination of two or more different elements. So most of the things that are around you are in fact chemical compounds (there are several thousand compounds that make your body, for example). Now, many people like to distinguish between “natural” and “synthetic” chemicals, where “natural” chemicals can be found in nature, while “synthetic” ones were produced in a lab, but that distinction is arbitrary. A chemical is a chemical, and on a molecular level, there is nothing that separates natural and synthetic chemicals. All chemical compounds are made by stringing different elements together, and there is no inherent difference between nature stinging elements together and scientists stringing elements together. We can make acids in the lab and you can find acids in nature, we can make chemicals that are poisonous at anything but a low dose in the lab, and you can find chemicals that are poisonous at anything but a low dose in nature, etc. The fact that something was synthesized in a lab doesn’t make it any more dangerous or any safer than a chemical that was found in nature. Indeed, saying that a given chemical is “natural” tells you absolutely nothing useful about the toxicity of that chemical, which is why I am arguing that the term is meaningless. Saying “chemical X is natural but chemical Y is synthetic” doesn’t tell me anything about the properties of those two chemicals. After all, nature is full of chemicals that are toxic at anything but a very low dose (cyanide and arsenic come to mind).

chemical structure acetylsalicylic acid salicylic acidConsider, for example, acetylsalicylic acid and salicylic acid. One of those is natural and the other is synthetic. Can you tell which? No, and neither could a chemist. If you showed those two molecules to a chemist who had no prior information about those chemicals, there is no way they she could tell you which was natural and which was synthetic, because that distinction is arbitrary. In all likelihood though, she would know which is which because these are two very well-known compounds. Salicylic acid is the compound in willow bark that gives it medicinal value, and acetylsalicylic acid is the synthetic version of it that we all know as aspirin. Further, we switched to the synthetic version largely because straight salicylic acid has a lot of unpleasant side effects like gastrointestinal problems (Hedner and Everts 1997). To be clear, aspirin has side effects as well (as do all chemicals), but they tend to be less severe, and the point is, once again, that simply being natural doesn’t automatically make something better. Indeed, asserting that something is better because it is natural is a logical fallacy known as an appeal to nature.

Batman and robin GMO meme

Almost none of our crops are truly natural in that most of them aren’t actually found in nature in their present form.

Moving beyond the arbitrariness of what is natural, the typical definition of “found in nature” doesn’t apply to some things that most people would intuitively think of as natural. Take apples, for example. They’re natural, right? Not so much. The fruit that we know as an apple does not grow in nature. As I will talk about more later, essentially all of our crops have been modified by thousands of years of careful breeding, so, technically speaking, they aren’t natural.

The situation is even more problematic when we talk about actions rather than objects. People often say things like, “we should do X, because X is natural,” but what on earth does that mean? Generally, I hear people say that it means what our ancestors did, but that raises the obvious question of how far back do we have to go for something to be natural? Are we talking about 200 years ago? 1,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? etc. This definition is horribly ambiguous.

To get around this problem, some people say that natural actions are those that are found in the animal kingdom, but that is also an extremely problematic definition for a number of reasons. First, how widespread does it need to be in the animal kingdom? Is it simply required to find one animal that does it? Further, there are lots of human actions that most people think of as natural, even though other animals don’t do them. For example, we cook our food. Does that making cooking unnatural? Finally, this definition is fundamentally flawed because we are just highly evolved animals, so doesn’t that make everything that we do natural? Actually think about this for a second. I think that we can all agree that structures like bird nests and beaver dams are natural, but those are not structures that just form spontaneously in nature. Rather, they are carefully and deliberately constructed by an animal who uses materials to make them. Nevertheless, if I make a wooden table, most people would agree that the table is unnatural, but how on earth is that any different from a beaver dam? The beaver is an animal that took materials found in nature and combined them to make a new structure, and I am an animal that took materials found in nature and combined them to make a new structure. What’s the difference? Further, we can logically extend this to all human structures. When you get right down to it, all of the parts of a skyscraper came from nature, and there is no logical reason to say that a beaver combining sticks and mud to make a dam is natural but me combing two metals to make steel is unnatural. Again, the definition of natural is completely arbitrary and functionally meaningless.

 

“GMO”
GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism,” and you may think that this has a very clear and precise definition…but it really doesn’t. Before reading the rest of this, try to come up with a definition of it yourself, then see how that definition holds up.

The most general line of thought would be that a GMO is exactly what is says: “an organism whose genes have been altered,” but that definition is much too broad. Every living organism has a genetic code that has been altered from its ancestral state by millions of years of evolution. If you really think about it, we are all just heavily modified cyanobacteria (cyanobacteria [or some similar organisms] where most likely the first living cells).

Now you may think that I am stretching things a bit here, and perhaps I am, but “nature” does all sorts of crazy things like hybridizing species (as plants do frequently) and even stealing the DNA from one organism and inserting it into the genetic code of another. For example, at some point in the evolution of the sweet potato, it managed to modify its genetic code by inserting bacterial genes into its DNA. In other words, it is a transgenic species whose genetic code is a combination of the genes of several species. Shouldn’t that make it a GMO? Further, this is not limited to sweet potatoes, because bacteria themselves are well known for their ability to incorporate the DNA of other species into their own genomes. So nature is constantly doing the types of things that most people would associate with GMOs, and foods like sweet potatoes really are transgenic species.

natural corn teosinte

The corn that we eat is quite different from wild corn (teosinte). Our crops have been genetically modified via thousands of years of careful breeding, and the fruits, vegetables, and animals that we eat today contain novel genetic codes that are not found in nature. Image via mentalfloss.com.

Nevertheless, you can try to qualify the term GMO by saying that GMOs are, “organisms that have been genetically modified by humans,” but that definition is also fraught with problems. Beyond the fact that it is totally arbitrary (see the “natural” section), it also would encompass all modern agriculture. Those delicious fruits that you know as watermelons don’t exist in nature (at least not in their current form). Similarly, natural bananas are small and full of giant seeds, and wild corn does not produce those nice juicy husks that you slather in butter and salt. Both our livestock and crops have been genetically modified through years selective breeding, and they contain genetic codes that aren’t found in nature.

At this point, people often try to add something about moving genes between species, but that just creates more problems. First, I’ve already shown that nature does that as well, so we have to keep that arbitrary “man did it” qualifier. Second, that would also include lots of “non-GMO” crops such as pluots, plumcots, tangelos, etc. all of which are hybrids that used selective breeding to combine the DNA of two different species. Third, this definition does not include all of the crops that are typically described as “GMOs.” Indeed, GMOs that take the DNA of one organism and put it into another (a.k.a. transgenic GMOs) are actually only one type of GMO. There are others that simply modify the existing genome (i.e., they activate, deactivate, or alter genes that are already present).

Given the problems with that definition, you might try defining a GMO as an organism that is “modified by humans via a method other than selective breeding,” but that definition includes mutation breeding, which is typically not considered to be a GMO. This method uses chemicals or UV radiation to randomly mutate organisms’ DNA in order to produce new and useful traits (i.e., it makes genetic modifications via inducing mutations). However, this method typically does not receive the label “GMO,” and in some cases, even farms that label themselves as “organic” can us crops that were produced by this method.

This leaves us with the outrageous definition that a GMO is, “an organism whose DNA was modified by humans via a method other than selective breeding or mutation breeding,” but at that point we have tacked so many arbitrary qualifiers onto the term, that the term itself is essentially meaningless. To put this another way, our “non-GMO” agricultural practices constantly make genetic modifications, including swapping genes between species and randomly mutating DNA, and the techniques that we label as “genetic engineering” are only different in that they are faster and more precise than the other methods. Therefore, there is no good reason to talk about GMOs as if they are fundamentally different than the other methods, because the definition of a GMO is completely arbitrary.

Note: You may be tempted to say that a GMO is simply, “an organism that was produced by genetic engineering” but that doesn’t really solve the problem, because you then need a non-arbitrary definition for GE which excludes mutation breeding, selective breeding, and what happens in nature, without excluding any crops that are typically thought of as GMOs. So you still have the exact same problem.


“Organic”
Finally, let’s talk about the term “organic.” This is perhaps the greatest marketing term ever coined, and the problem with it is not that a definition doesn’t exist, but rather that the definition is arbitrary and most people don’t use it correctly (to be clear, I am talking specifically about organic farming practices, not organic chemistry or the general use of “organic” to mean something that formed of its own accord without intervention).

Here is a question for you, true or false, organic farming doesn’t use pesticides? A very large portion of people think that the answer is “true,” but it is actually “false.” Organic farmers absolutely use pesticides, and many of those pesticides are toxic at comparable doses to the pesticides used in traditional farming. Indeed, organic pesticides have can harm wild species, pollute waterways, and do all of the other harmful things that traditional pesticides can do (Bahlai et al. 2010). In fact, one of the most common organic pesticides is “Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin,” which is the exact same chemical that GMO corn produces (i.e., Bt maize). So one the one hand, organic farmers use Bt liberally, and on the other hand, they demonize corn that produces Bt. Are you starting to see why this is arbitrary (dare I say hypocritical)?

So if organic crops use potentially dangerous pesticides just as much as traditional crops, then what exactly does it take for a crop to be considered organic? Generally speaking, they have to be grown without synthetic pesticides (“natural” are fine) and without the use of GMOs (some countries place additional requirements like no petroleum-based fertilizers). If you have read the rest of this post, then you should know where I am about to go with this.  I have already shown that the distinction between “natural” and “synthetic” chemicals is arbitrary and all chemicals are safe at a low dose and toxic at a high enough dose, and I have shown that what we consider to be a GMO is really arbitrary. So, since the definition of organic relies on those other terms, the “organic” label is itself arbitrary. To put this another way, organic crops are not automatically healthier or more nutritious than traditional crops. Indeed, reviews of the literature have been unable to find consistent and compelling evidence that organic food is healthier (Smith-Spangler et al. 2012; Galgano et al. 2015).

Now, at this point, you may be thinking that organic crops aren’t healthier, but surely they are better for the environment. However, that is also a misnomer. Some practices that are typically associated with organic farming are better for the environment, but those practices are sometimes included in non-organic farming as well, and organic farming has serious drawbacks, such as the fact that it often uses far more land and resources than traditional farming (Tuomisto et al. 2012). As a result, you can’t make a blanket statement like, “organic farming is better for the environment” because in many cases it isn’t.

The point is that simply saying that something is “organic” doesn’t actually tell you anything useful about how healthy it is or whether or not it was grown in a sustainable way. You need to actually look at its nutrient content, what chemicals were used to grow it, how much chemical residue is present and at what does those chemicals becomes toxic, how much land was used to grow the crop, etc. In other words, if all that you say is, “crop A is organic and crop B is non-organic” then you have not provided any useful information for describing which is better. To do that, you have to say, “crop A is organic and contains X nutrients, was grown on Y amount of land, was sprayed with Z chemicals, etc.; whereas crop B is non-organic and contains X’ nutrients, was grown on Y’ amount of land, was sprayed with Z’ chemicals, etc.” You can, however, say the exact same thing without including the words “organic” and “non-organic” and you won’t lose any useful information. In other words, it’s the X, Y, and Z bits that matter. The label “organic” is completely irrelevant. Therefore, simply saying that something is “organic” doesn’t tell you anything useful about how healthy or sustainable it is.

Conclusion
In short, all four of these terms are either ambiguous or arbitrary, and they really don’t give you much in the way of useful information. Everything becomes a toxin at a high enough dose, natural chemicals can be just as dangerous as synthetic chemicals, virtually all of our food has been genetically modified, and organic crops are not inherently healthier or better for the environment than traditional foods. None of these words actually indicate the health or quality of the products that they describe, and you always need to look at additional information like the dose of a chemical contained in the product, the dose at which that chemical becomes toxic, etc. Simply saying that something is “natural” or “organic” or “a GMO” or “contains a toxin” isn’t useful because that doesn’t describe anything meaningful about that product.

Related posts

Citations

Bahlai et al. 2010. Choosing organic pesticides over synthetic pesticides may not effectively mitigate environmental risk in soybeans. PLoS ONE 5:e11250.

Doucleff. 2015. Natural GMO? Sweet potato genetically modified 8,000 years ago. NPR: Food and Culture

 Garigan and Ristedt 1999. Death from hyponatremia as a result of acute water intoxication in an Army basic trainee. Military Medicine 164:234–238.

Galgano et al. 2015. Conventional and organic foods: A comparison focused on animal products. Cogent Food and Agriculture 2: 1142818.

Hedner and Everts 1997. The early clinical history of salicylates in rheumatology and pain. Clinical Rheumatology 17:17–25.

Ruishalme. 2015. Natural assumptions. Thoughtscapism.com. Accessed 15-Aug-16

Smith-Spangler et al. 2012. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives? A systematic review. Annals of Internal Medicine 157:348–366.

Tuomisto et al. 2012. Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? A meta-analysis. Journal of Environmental Management, 112:309­–320.

Wilcox. 2011. Mythbusting 101: Organic farming > conventional agriculture. Scientific American.

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73 Responses to 4 meaningless words: toxin, natural, organic, and GMO

  1. Thank you so much for your informative posts! The voice of reason. I love my yoga classes, but am surrounded by the world and words of woo. “This twist will rid your body of toxins. Energize your chakras, blah, blah.” I think “toxins” are the Original Sin of our time.

    Like

  2. Max says:

    There are people that are too deliberately stupid to understand this. I have used some of the arguments you stated and they say, “GMOs are what they produce in the lab” and all such nonsense.

    Willful ignorance has blighted society.

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    • If you judge those who understand logic as ignorant, explain to us scientifically why a genetically modified organism is the same as an organism that is not genetically modified.

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      • Fallacy Man says:

        I definitely did explain that in the post (see the sweet potato section, for example), but I also explained it in more detail int he following two posts
        https://thelogicofscience.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/gmos-are-unnatural-but-so-is-everything-else-that-you-eat/
        https://thelogicofscience.com/2015/11/16/the-real-frankenfoods/

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        • I ask you a simple question and you answer me with links? Is it so difficult to understand logic and science? Obviously you are not a Scientist, you are a man who use fallacies to try to misinform and disinform your readers! Saying that a genetically modified organism is the same as an organism that is not genetically modified is a fallacy of ambiguity, the texas sharpshooter fallacy because you choose a data cluster to suit your argument, or found a pattern to fit the presumption that GMO’s and Nature are the same, By the way, that picture of a bacteriophage on the right of background is very interesting and tells a lot about you and your intentions!

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          • Fallacy Man says:

            The links give the explanation that you asked for. Why on earth should I spend several hours typing out something that I have already typed? You asked a question, I provided you with the answer. You, however, have yet to explain why either the explanation provided in this post or in the posts that I provided you is insufficient. You keep saying that I am wrong, but you have yet to present and evidence or a cogent argument to support that claim.

            This is not a sharpshooter fallacy. As explained in the post, every single living thing on this planet has been genetically modified from its ancestral state. For the most part, this has happened by nature forming mutations, hybridizing different species, and even taking the DNA from one organism and putting it into a distantly related organism. Then, we cam along and started doing that deliberately, but until now, our methods have been sloppy and imprecise. We have modified genomes by selecting for some traits and against others, but in the process, many other genes get changed unintentionally. We have also hybridized numerous species, including many species that don’t hybridize in nature. Additionally, we use radiation to form new mutations, yet none of that is considered to be a GMO. GMOs are, however, not fundamentally different. We still are modifying the genome, and (in some cases) moving genes from one organism to another. The only difference is that it is precise and we move a specific gene or set of genes rather than moving genes randomly. All of our breeding methods involve modifying genomes, and many of them involve moving genes between species. GMOs are just a logical extension of that process.

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            • You are using the fallacy of Faulty Comparison, Proof by Intimidation, Genetic Fallacy and the fallacy of Non Sequitur, trying to convince your readers that the fact that every single living thing on this planet has been genetically modified from its ancestral state (which is debatable), therefore we should accept the manipulation of our genes!

              Another fallacy of faulty comparison that you are using is when you compare evolution with manipulation! An organism whose genes have been altered through time by a natural process of evolution, is not the same as an organism whose genes have been manipulated with specific intentions by man! Alteration is not manipulation! As your text tries to convince that it is the same, it is not! Alteration is a process of change, a change not necessarily the result of a manipulation, on the other hand, a process of manipulation is necessarily a man made process of manus “hand”, requires man intervention!

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  3. sean samis says:

    I’d suggest that “chemical” deserves it’s own discussion.

    Like

  4. Andrew Alchin says:

    Thanks again for a great blog. In have reposted to groups on Linked In, hope that’s OK

    Like

  5. Craig says:

    This is an excellent post, which should be read by all who demonize agriculture and the corporations that help provide the lifestyle the majority of us enjoy in this country. May I suggest asking a good copy editor to proofread your work since the typos really do subtract from the impact? Great work!

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    • So by your logic, Germany, one of the world powers where much of the roots and advance of agriculture has its origins, that cast out almost completely the GMO industry from Germany, even the BASF (the nazi company and one of the major GMO corporations) was expelled from Germany! And you call demonizers to all the German people, all those agricultures and all the professionals in the area that moved away and do not want GMO in their lands?

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      • Fallacy Man says:

        That is an appeal to authority/appeal to popularity fallacy. It does not matter who thinks that GMOs are dangerous/bad for the environment, because hundreds of scientific studies have found that they are safe. Only science matters.
        http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Nicolia-20131.pdf

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        • It is not an appeal to authority fallacy because germans and their agricultures are not an authority in the world. Neither is an appeal to popularity fallacy because german citizens, german agricultures, schoolers and professionals in the agriculture area are not popular in the world either, but they should be because they know very well, scientifically, that GMO’s are a poision to the lands and to the ecosystem of the Earth!

          In the same way you accuse me of using those fallacies, I can also say the same about you, that you are using the fallacy of the fallacy because you presumed that because my claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, that the claim itself must be wrong and the fallacy of “tu quoque” becuse you are avoiding to engage with criticism by turning it back on me, you answered criticism with criticism.

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          • Fallacy Man says:

            Saying, “GMOs are bad because Germans say they are bad, and Germans are experts” is absolutely, 100% an appeal to authority fallacy. It is a textbook example of an appeal to authority fallacy.

            Further, I did not commit a fallacy fallacy, because I did not say, “GMOs are safe because your argument has a fallacy.” Quite the opposite, in fact. What I said, was that GMOs are safe because they have been scientifically tested hundreds of times and those test have consistently found that they are safe. I presented you with a massive body of scientific evidence which you are totally ignoring. If you want me to rethink my position, then you have to provide me with actual evidence. I want to see the solid peer-reviewed studies that have found that GMOs are dangerous. Nothing else will suffice.

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            • It takes many years for the GMO’s with implications on the ecosystem to be tested and confirmed as safe. Therefore, how can you say that they are safe when most of the countries are saying that they are not because they are starting to recognize it’s implications on the soils and their lack of cooperation with the other living systems?

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              • Fallacy Man says:

                We have been using GMOs for roughly two decades.

                See my final comment under Phoebe’s comment

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                • And cancer rates increases every decade also, interesting coincidence isn’t it? I know that you will accuse me of using a false cause fallacy, but that does not invalidate the coincidence between increased cancers in recent years and GMOs. The official explanation of the white coat scoundrels is that the cause of increased cancer diseases is that people live longer! Ah Ah Ah

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                  • cosmicaug says:

                    That also happens to be the correct explanation. Age adjusted cancer rates are not increasing. That’s the truth. That you choose to reject it because it does not fit your prejudices is your problem.

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  6. Phoebe says:

    There are many cavalier statements in this essay which are passed off as facts. I can only deal now with 2 of them. The writer seems to think that aspects of agriculture production are merely semantic playthings, rather than real methods that create actual effects on soil, water, and food.

    One is that humans have genetically modified food for eons. For eons, humans have used traditional hybrid breeding methods that mimic nature to select and develop traits, and we still use those methods. But those processes are vastly different from forcing combinations of genetic traits from completely unrelated species, in a way that could never happen in nature. This “modern biotechnology,” as the corporations like to call it, has been in our food only since 1996.

    The second especially woeful misstatement is that the definition of “organic” is arbitrary. It’s quite obvious that the writer has zero knowledge or experience with the USDA organic standards, which are highly specific written requirements that growers must meet to be certified “organic.” These are hammered out by the Organic Standards Committee, which is made up of family farmers plus corporate agriculture reps. A producer must follow the standards, keeping impeccable records of everything, every process and occurrence (and I am not exaggerating), then submit to a very detailed, lengthy (sometimes over multiple days) on-site inspection by a certified organic inspection agency, every year. There is nothing arbitrary about it. The writer’s assertion that “organic crops use potentially dangerous pesticides just as much as traditional crops” is also wrong. While there are a handful of pesticides permitted under organic standards, they are not the same ones as the chemical arsenal employed by so-called “conventional” growers. And, if organic growers use them, there are required to use them only as a last resort after trying other less invasive methods, and then they may be used only sparingly as needed. Commercial chemical farmers apply herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides by the calendar, in copious amounts recommended by the manufacturer — irregardless of what is happening with the crop.

    Altogether, this piece is an irresponsible rant that is not based on actual practice.

    Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      I’m not convinced that you read the post. For example, you said, “But those processes are vastly different from forcing combinations of genetic traits from completely unrelated species, in a way that could never happen in nature.” Yet I gave examples where that is exactly what happened (e.g., the sweet potato).

      Similarly, with regards to organic, I stated that there were requirements for something to be organic. However, the point is that those requirements don’t actually make meaningful distinctions. In other words, I never said that anyone can claim to be growing organic food (as you seem to be suggesting). Rather, the point is that the requirements for something to be considered organic are arbitrary and are not automatically better or healthier than traditional methods.

      Further, you said, “The writer’s assertion that ‘organic crops use potentially dangerous pesticides just as much as traditional crops’ is also wrong. While there are a handful of pesticides permitted under organic standards, they are not the same ones as the chemical arsenal employed by so-called ‘conventional’ growers.” Again, I clearly stated that the chemicals used by organic and conventional farms are different, but that is beside the point, because (as I explained at length) whether or not a chemical is synthetic is irrelevant to how toxic it is.

      Your comment is a complete strawman. Please actually read the post in its entirety before commenting.

      Like

      • Eric says:

        Not to mention she used the non-word “irregardless” which is an automatic disqualification in any argument.

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        • Jessica Beal says:

          It must be terribly dull being so much more intelligent than every one else. Although you seem to rather enjoy it.

          Like

      • Why do you want to destroy Indian Culture? You will stay alone in the United States destroying each other and your land with GMO’s and eventually and naturally, you will be extinguished because the Earth has an auto renewed system that correct itself against pathogens!

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    • Andrew Alchin says:

      The USDA standards for organic are not globally accepted nor do they apply outside agriculture ie Personal Care & Household product which are now making those claims.

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      • The USDA-NOP regulation has reciprocity with the EU Standards and is recognized in Australia, NZ, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan and a handful of other countries. Most other countries do not have organic regulations and recognize the US Standard. Additionally. all of the various published standards are based on the same principles: the reduction of bio-accumulative chemicals of concern combined with increased crop diversity and innovative pest management techniques. The use of GM open pollinators has profoundly reduced the crop diversity (and I would expect a scientist who ever took and evolutionary biology course or even section to understand the value of diversity). If you are not familiar with the inherent threats due to reduced genome use, read up on the history of the Irish potato famine.
        As to your repeated use of the word “arbitrary” with regard to these rules, they are anything but arbitrary. There are rules behind those rules that establish scientific and process standards for their creation. They were developed over 12 years and continue to be refined. Transparently – with the public. Last I checked, scientist are part of the public.

        I read the paper on the pesticides used on aphids. For your information, most organic farmers do not use pesticides to control aphids. They plants a row of crops that the aphids like more than their primary crop (aphids like alfalfa more than they like strawberries so you just add a row of alfalfa and the aphids leave your strawberries alone). The writers of the articles looked only at the pesticides, not the prevalence of use of those pesticides. Without that data their study becomes rather meaningless.

        As to the cosmetic issue: sadly consumers conflate safety with organic. The real question is why do they want to find something that they perceive as “safer” than conventional cosmetics? The answer is messy but it is increasingly well supported. We need to remove those chemicals that are accumulating in our waterways and changing the sex of amphibians (triclosan – banned in multiple other countries), disturbing endocrine systems (phthalates) and multiple preservatives that are changing the biology of the worlds eco-system.

        Stick your head out of your lab, look away from the test tubes and look at the real issue. Not the meaning of these words but why people are looking for alternatives – justifiably. Then get to work on solving a real scientific problem instead of a linguistic one.

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        • Fallacy Man says:

          You seem to have missed my fundamental point which is simply that whether something is “organic” or “non-organic” doesn’t tell you whether it is good for you/the environment. Both forms of farming have pros and cons, and the division between them really is arbitrary. Can the chemicals used in traditional farming damage the environment? Sure, but so can the chemicals used in organic farming. The fact that one uses “natural” chemicals is an arbitrary distinction because “natural” chemicals are not fundamentally different from “synthetic” chemicals. Similarly, can GMOs harm the environment? Of course, but so can organic farming. The large reviews of the data are consistently finding that organic is not inherently better than traditional farming, and in many cases, traditional farming (particularly using GMOs) is superior. This is especially true when it comes to land use. Organic farming practices often are better for the environment per a unit of area, but organic farming generally produces lower yields per a unit of area, thus it requires more land, and the total amount of resources come out to equal or greater the resources used in traditional farming. Even when the recourse use is completely even, however, we can’t overlook the habitat loss problem. There are a lot of mouths to feed on this planet, and there is only so much farm-able land, so we need to use each unit of area as efficiently as possible.

          Like

          • Only the United States alone produce 4 times more food than the one the country needs! And yet there is a growing hunger and poverty in America! But you, man of the fallacies, instead of promoting the sharing of that food that is produced every day, you promote GMOs?

            Like

            • Fallacy Man says:

              That’s a fallacy of the false dilemma as well as a strawman fallacy. I did not promote GMOs “instead” of promoting better use of the food that we have. Rather, I didn’t talk about food waste because it was simply not within the scope of this post. I completely agree that food waste is a major problem that we need to be addressing, but that doesn’t negate the importance of GMOs. In other words, the situation is not “better food distribution” or “GMOs” rather, the solution is, “both.” Developed countries certainly should waste less food and should help to get more food to developing countries, but that is exceedingly inefficient and not sustainable as a long term solution, because it makes the developing countries dependent on the industrialized countries, not to mention all of the natural resources that get wasted by transporting crops around the world (that majorly increases the environmental impacts of farming). In contrast, GMOs can (and do) help developing countries increase their crop yields and grow more food with fewer resources. Thus, better food usage is an immediate stopgap solution to the problem of world hunger, but GMOs are a better long term solution. Even with GMOs, however, I completely agree that we should be less wasteful, that way we can decrease the total amount of land and resources required to grow food.

              Like

              • It is not a fallacy of false dilemma because I’m not considering limited alternatives! I’m confronting you with facts that you cunningly ignore accusing me of using fallacies when obviously it’s you that are using them to try to confuse and deceive your readers! For example, when you cannot admit and consider that America alone produces 4 times more food than it really needs, and you only focus on defeding GMO’s comparing them with non GMO’s, the one that are using a fallacy of false dilemma is you beucase you are considering only limited alternatives, the GMO and the non GMO, when in fact there is at least one additional option, sharing the food that we produce 4 times more than we need! This is the definition of the fallacy of false dilemma.

                You are very amateur defending your beliefs and still have a lot to learn. And I wrote beliefs because when you ignore scientific evidences that clearly demonstrates the devastating impact that GMOs have on the ecosystem, the only justification for you to continue to defend GMOs is a matter of your personal belief, not Science!

                Like

                • Fallacy Man says:

                  Did you even read my response? I explicitly stated that we should be sharing our food and wasting less.

                  Like

                  • That is not the same of admiting that we produce 4 more times the food that we need! We are talking about 4 more times! It is a scandal! This is not a question of waste and sharing, this is a matter of profiting and using other countries resources and slavery to maintain and perpetuate that kind of hell on earth! We don’t respect other countries resources because we want to consume even more and have abundance of unnecessary stuffs at lower prices at the cost of slavery and colonization of other countries! Most of the rich countries are parasites that are using poor countries as their hosts! That must STOP!

                    Like

              • “Developed countries certainly should waste less food and should help to get more food to developing countries”

                The main objective of GMO tecnologies is not to end poverty and hunger! The main purpose of those tecnologies is to destroy and substitute the tradicional methods of agriculture in the world! That’s why Germans are not stupid and know very well the impact that GMO’s have on the soils! A synthesized organism stops responding correctly to the elements of nature, and only works properly with synthetic elements! That’s the main purpose of the GMO agenda! Unterraform! Transform the Planet Earth so as to resemble a synthetic organism, especially so that it can support artificial life!

                Like

              • “but that is exceedingly inefficient and not sustainable as a long term solution, because it makes the developing countries dependent on the industrialized countries,”

                All countries have their resources necessary for the sustainability of their humans, animals, plants and minerals. Agenda 21 of globalization tells you otherwise trying to fool you that the planet is some kind of defective organism that needs human hand in developing countries to make them dependent on the industrialized “developed” countries! That’s the biggest mistake and deception! All countries have their own means and resources in order for them to become self sustainable and not depend on anybody and anything outside them! This is, of course, if there were no wars and no colonists!

                Like

                • Fallacy Man says:

                  More rants and fallacies and still no data. I’m growing quite weary of this so let me make this simple for you with two questions.

                  1). Can you provide me with any large, replicated peer-reviewed studies to support your position?

                  2). What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

                  Between the original post and the comments, I have presented you with reviews of close to 2,000 studies which have failed to document the supposed horrors of GMOs. So why do you reject them, and where is your evidence to the contrary?

                  Like

                  • 1) Common Sense which tells us that we do not need GMO’s to end hunger and poverty does not need studies, it needs goodwill, cooperation and sharing among humans
                    2) The only way you could convince me that I’m wrong is if I was manipulated by your fallacies which are a more subtle intelectual way of deception and lying, difficult for some people to identify as such.

                    Most countries through the world are banning GMO’s because they are slowly recognizing its dangers. And you want to convince those countries and more than 5 billion people, including scientists and farmers that they are wrong and you are right, I know that you will say that i’m using a fallacy, but I don’t care because you are as your nickname says: a Fallacy Man.

                    Like

                    • Fallacy Man says:

                      Continuing to have this conversation via multiple threads is ridiculous, so I will consolidate them here.

                      You keep making the same claims over and over again, but you aren’t providing any logic or evidence to support them. For example, you said, “An organism whose genes have been altered through time by a natural process of evolution, is not the same as an organism whose genes have been manipulated with specific intentions by man!” But that statement once again completely ignores the fact that ALL of our crops have genes that have been manipulated with specific intentions by man. Again, we have been splicing different species together for years. Similarly, we use mutation breeding to randomly mutate organisms genetic code, yet no one freaks out about that. Traditional agriculture practises are absolutely designed to manipulate genomes, that is why the crops that we have today aren’t the crops that our ancestors had 10,000 years ago.

                      Additionally, you are continuing to ignore examples like the sweet potato. Consider the following statement, “crop X was created when several genes from bacteria were extracted from the bacteria and inserted into the genetic code of the ancestors of crop X.” I just described a “GMO” right? Wrong, I described a non-GMO sweet potato. On a molecular level, the changes that are made through genetic engineering are no different from what nature does or what we have done for thousands of years. The only difference is that now we can alter the genome very specifically with few unintended consequences, whereas before it was haphazard and had lots of unintended consequences. The final product is the same.

                      You keep coming back to appeal to popularity fallacies (i.e., many countries are saying that they are dangerous so they must be dangerous). What governments believe is irrelevant. Only scientific evidence matters, and that evidence has consistently found that they are safe (further, you are ignoring all of the governments that allow them, why should we only trust the governments that oppose them?).

                      Many of your other statements are baffling and unmerited and I am ignoring most of the more outlandish ones (for example, your consistent restatement that GMOs are entirely for some sinister purpose, how do you explain golden rice and GMO-bananas I wonder?). For example, you said, “GMO’s does not allow the cooperation in the soil and the cooperation between the plants and does not respect the intelligence in each of these living systems to play it’s role!” First, there is no “intelligence,” the systems just are. Second, GMOs are not fundamentally different from other crops. GMO corn can have all of the same relationships as non-GMO corn. Altering a handful of genes does not make it an entirely new, novel thing. Further, remember again that corn itself is an artificial thing. Our modern crops do not occur in nature. They were all formed by thousands of years of us tinkering with their genes.

                      Your comments on toxins make no sense. For example, you said, “I’m not comparing synthetic chemicals with natural chemicals. I’m remind you what is a toxin: a foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not normally naturally produced by or expected to be present within that organism.” If that is your definition of a toxin, then anything found naturally in your body must not be a toxin. So do you think that formaldehyde is safe at any dose? Your body produces it, and it is totally safe at low doses, but it is extremely dangerous at high doses. Similarly, how do you feel about cyanide? It is “naturally” in you via your diet, but at anything but a very small dose it is quite fatal. Further, there are tons of chemicals that aren’t naturally found in your body, but they are totally safe at anything but a high dose. You are most decidedly committing an appeal to nature fallacy here. Whether or not something is natural has no bearing on whether or not it is safe. The dose is what matters, not the chemical itself. “Xenobiotic” is not s synonym for “toxic.”

                      Finally, you have admitted that nothing will make you change your mind. I gave you nearly 2,000 studies and you responded with, “nope, you’re wrong” (paraphrasing). Given that nothing will change your mind, continuing this conversation is totally pointless. You clearly don’t care about actual evidence, because people who do care about evidence are willing to change their minds. They actually seriously consider the fact that hundreds of studies have looked at GMOs and found them to be safe, while there is no solid evidence that they are dangerous. Admitting that you won’t do that is the same thing as admitting that your view is based on biases and preconceptions, and there is clearly nothing that I can say that will convince you otherwise, so I’m done. Actual scientific evidence is all that matters. If you can show me large, properly controlled studies that were published in reputable journals, then I will be happy to weigh that evidence against all of the studies that have reached the opposite conclusion and I will revaluate my position, but all you have done is make factually untrue claims and repeated appeal to nature fallacies, appeal to popularity fallacies, etc. So this will be the last time that I respond to you on this thread. Farewell.

                      Like

                    • “ALL of our crops have genes that have been manipulated with specific intentions by man.”

                      Once again you are playing with words to deceive your less attentive readers! Manipulation in a lab where scientists literally manipulate the genetic integrity of an organism is not the same as alteration by evolution through time where the integrity of the genetic code of the organisms is not being manipulated!

                      I’m not ignoring the sweet potato because there is no sweet potatos in te GMO industry! Obviously you never eat or don’t want to recognize the taste and the nutritious differences of a natural potato and a GMO potato! It is such a huge difference that it cannot be described, just eating and comparing for yourself! And the same applies to any other vegetable or fruit!

                      The rest of your comment is based on the fallacy of faulty comparison and false cause that you constantly and cunningly are using in a lot of your arguments trying to convince your readers that manipulation is the same as alteration and that if nature alters the genetic code over time through a natural process of evolution, therefore nature evolution is the same as genetic manipulation, when it’s not!

                      Like

                    • cosmicaug says:

                      ラルフ・C・ベルモンド writes:

                      I’m not ignoring the sweet potato because there is no sweet potatos in te GMO industry!

                      His point is that evidence exists that in every sweet potato cultivar in existence several genes from bacteria were extracted from the bacteria and inserted into the genetic code its ancestors. By some definitions it would have to make them “GMOs”.

                      ラルフ・C・ベルモンド writes:

                      Obviously you never eat or don’t want to recognize the taste and the nutritious differences of a natural potato and a GMO potato! It is such a huge difference that it cannot be described, just eating and comparing for yourself! And the same applies to any other vegetable or fruit!

                      You are bullshitting us (though, in your defense, you are probably too ignorant to realize that you are bullshitting us). I very much doubt that you have tasted a GMO potato. The Innate potato has only been approved very recently. I’m not even sure it has hit the marketplace.

                      Like

                    • Ok, now you are using the Argumentum ad hominem fallacy, which leads me to conclude that from now on will not respect me. Have a nice day.

                      Like

                    • Fallacy Man says:

                      I know I said I was done, but your inability (or more likely, refusal) to understand the sweet potato argument is annoying me. Please actually read the original post as well as my previous comments. I’m not saying that sweet potatoes are used in the GE industry, quite the opposite. “natural” “organic” sweet potatoes were created thousands of years ago when nature took genes from bacteria and inserted them into the sweet potato. In other words, we aren’t doing anything that nature hasn’t already done.
                      http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/05/05/404198552/natural-gmo-sweet-potato-genetically-modified-8-000-years-ago

                      You are also continuing to play silly word games by insisting that what is done in the lab is a “manipulation” whereas taking two species that would never cross in nature and forcing them to mate (thus creating a completely novel combination of genes in the offspring) is fine (i.e. hybrids). Similarly, you haven’t addressed mutation breeding (which randomly mutates organisms DNA; who is that not a “manipulation” of the “genetic integrity”). Further, even just regular old artificial selection is absolutely a manipulation of the genome. We got our large, juicy, modern crops by taking their ancestors (who lacked the genes/alleles found in the current crops), and carefully and systematically breeding them to give them those genes/alleles and help those traits to rise to prominence. Now, of course, our ancestors did not realize that they were manipulating the genes, but that absolutely is what they were doing. All that they new, was that when you continually breed large corn plants with other large corn plants, the result was a crop with larger plants. In reality, of course, they were manipulating the genome by increasing the frequency of the alleles for large plants. Additionally, this process frequently involved crossing different strains which had different genetic material that way the genetic material of both parents would end up in the offspring. Without knowing it, they were manipulating the genetic code of their crops.

                      Now that I have that out of my system, I am truly done, because trying to convince you of anything is clearly a waste of effort.

                      Like

        • GMO’s is a weapon of mass destruction! Those beasts have destroyed the agricultural diversity for centuries! They want to seize all means of production in the hands of a small group of corporations that want to patent the earth and their resources, so that at the right moment they can spread hunger in the world by controlling the food and removing the diversity and livelihoods to global population!

          GMO’s does not allow the cooperation in the soil and the cooperation between the plants and does not respect the intelligence in each of these living systems to play it’s role! Every living system is a self-organized system, that’s what makes living systems living, they are self-organized! Any system that is externally organized must become competitive, and that applies to external input systems in agriculture (GMO’s) and it applies to external input systems in the society when we stop defining ourselfs as who we are, what we want and what we love to do and gives us joy.

          The main objective of GMO tecnologies is not to end poverty or hunger, it’s to create poverty and hunger! The main purpose of those tecnologies is to destroy and substitute the diversity and tradicional methods of agriculture in the world! That’s why Germans are not stupid to wipe out the Nazi BASF corporation and GMO’s from Germany and know very well the impact that GMO’s have on the soils! A synthesized organism stops responding correctly to the elements of nature, and only works properly with synthetic elements! That’s the main purpose of the GMO agenda! Unterraform! Transform the Planet Earth so as to resemble a synthetic organism, especially so that it can support artificial life!

          Like

          • Good evening!

            You seem very interested in this blog post by The Logic Of Science. It opens up a lot of topics, and the discussion here afterwards delves on even more directions. I was wondering if we might look at one or two concepts at a time, for the sake of clarity. The following two below were the first to catch my attention.

            I have seen a couple of claims repeated several times in the threads above. It would be interesting to see any evidence for an effect of differently bred crops on soil cooperation. The only effect I’ve ever seen documented for the soil micro-organisms is from one academically developed crop that has only been created last year (and thus is not commercially available), which was covered widely in the news as the climate-combating rice. It enhances the rice plant’s ability store its sugars away from the roots and make larger grains, and thus reduce the food available for methanogenic bacteria in the submerged rice paddies – reducing their methane emissions by whooping 90%. Because of the change in dynamics (of not promoting growth of methane-producing bacteria) the next step underway is to study the effects on the balance of soil microbiome in more detailed ways. This, however, is the only case I know of where soil micro-organisms are impacted, and this one could be impacted in a way that would drastically help reduce green house gas emissions, as today rice cultivation is the fourth largest emitter of methane in the world – reduction of 90% would be on the scale of closing down 150 coal plants. I wrote about this exciting new rice here: https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/07/28/three-ways-science-could-improve-the-world-through-rice/

            In the above case there is clear evidence of the effect, and the mechanism for the effect is obvious as well. It is not clear if there are any real drawbacks, and in any case, any small differences in soil bacteria might well be worth the benefits. I wonder if you know of any other examples where there indeed is evidence of an impact on soil organisms?

            On to the second concept…

            When it comes to diversity, connecting biotechnology to a reduction in biodiversity is a common misconception which I used to share. I used to generally accept the claim until I stopped to wonder what it really would entail, and was rather surprised at what I found when I read on it in depth. I wrote about it in my piece on monocultures, here:

            “Another interpretation of the biotech ‘monoculture problem’, which is not actually connected to the term monoculture at all, is the worry that biotechnology would lead to diminished genetic diversity within the crop plants themselves. But the fact is that farmers do plant a very genetically homogenous batch of seeds already when they buy traditional hybrid seeds. Arrays of different varieties are available, and farmers have the advantage of choosing carefully to suit their particular needs. The benefits in the form of vigour of the plants (healthier, bigger) far outweighs the pros of diversity in planting seeds with more randomly distributed characteristics – more heterogenous size, pest tolerance, etc also means smaller yields, in turn requiring larger farming area for same amount of product.

            Meanwhile, neither these hybrid or biotechnology crops created in the last century may mean bad news for crop diversity. Professor Thomas DeGregori, a scientific advisor of the organisation American Council on Science and Health who has studied and written about technology, agriculture, and economic development, talks about this in his piece The Anti-Monoculture Mania:

            “For both wheat and rice “components of genetic diversity other than spatial diversity have improved over time.” This includes:

            “temporal diversity (average age and rate of replacement of cultivars); polygenic diversity (the pyramiding of multiple genes for resistance to provide longer lasting protection from pathogens); and pedigree complexity (the number landraces, pureline selections, and mutants that are ancestors of a released variety)” (Rosegrant and Hazell 2000, 311-312).

            The argument that the Green Revolution crops have led to a diminution of genetic diversity, with a potential for a disease or pest infestation engendering a global crop loss catastrophe, is taken as axiomatic in many circles as one more threat that modern science imposes upon us. In fact, there is a sizeable and growing body of solidly based, scientific, peer-reviewed research that finds the exact opposite of the conventional wisdom (CIMMYT 1996, Evenson and Gollin 1994 & 1997, Gollin and Smale 1998, Rice et al. 1998, Smale 1997 & 1998, Smale et al. 1996 & 2002 and Wood and Lenné, 1999). Findings for wheat for example, “suggest that yield stability, resistance to rusts, pedigree complexity, and the number of modern cultivars in farmers’ fields have all increased since the early years of the Green Revolution” (Smale and McBride 1996).”

            Yet another commonly held belief is that development of biotech seeds has lead to a dramatic reduction in the variety of seeds available to the farmers. Some people seem to perceive that monoculture refers to the idea that todays farmers only grow crops of a few genetically uniform types, the only kinds ‘left’. The claim that available crop diversity would have suffered was put forth by an activist organisation RAFI which reported on majority of old plant varieties having disappeared from seed catalogues. (Under their new name, ETC, they also contributed to a questionable UN report, which I have written about at length here: Myth: The UN calls for small-scale organic farming.) Like many myths, this one is curiously persistent, considering that if you actually look into it, it does not hold up. This piece from The Genetic Literacy Project reports on that in detail. While creation of new varieties creates more diversity, the ‘disappearance’ of most old varieties has been of virtual nature – same variety previously sold under many names is nowadays found under one name only:
            …many varieties noted in the early 1900s did not represent different species; rather they were just the same rose (or tomato) by another name.

            For example, while Tracy found 578 named varieties of garden beans, only 185 of those were truly distinct. So wiping out nearly 400 varieties represented zero loss of diversity; it was just a book clean up.

            Farmers still have a rich choice of crop varieties available to them, and they are often the
            best informed party for deciding which variety works best for their land and situation. No manner of practice of monoculture (or Big Ag-business) has stolen that choice from them.”

            https://thoughtscapism.com/2016/03/17/monocultures-the-great-evil-of-modern-ag/

            If there are any sources that actually point at a tangible difference in soil micro-organisms or crop diversity, I hope you will share.

            Thanks for reading,
            Iida/Thoughtscapism

            Like

            • “which was covered widely in the news as the climate-combating rice.”

              The media only publish that for which they are paid for! We don’t need rice genetically manipulated to combat the climate. The climate is not an invader, an alien or a colonists in our Planet that we have to combat! But social models and the markets are! This is our enemy, not the climate! They deceive you to identify your enemy away from you, as something foreign to you when your enemy is right in the middle and around all of you! The enemy is the global model architected in society based solely on money, property and power above all, that was disseminated by the colonists, the planetary invaders, centuries ago. Their weapons are consecutive colonizations of planetary resources using the species of their target planets as hosts and manipulating their genes! They harvest the planetary resources to maintain a systemic imbalance in the world with their markets towards a purely mercantile globalization society, a social model in which they want people to live enclosed and controlled by technology!

              “reducing their methane emissions by whooping 90%.”

              “The team found that draining paddy fields in the middle of the rice-growing season — a practice that most Chinese farmers have adopted since the 1980s because it increases rice yields and saves water — stopped most of the methane release from the field. The team presented their results on 13 August at a meeting on climate science convened at a Beijing hotel by the US Department of Energy and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.”

              “By combining detailed inventories of agriculture practice throughout China with satellite data indicating the presence of straws in rice fields, the team was able to estimate that paddies across China release 5.1 million tonnes of methane a year — nearly a 70% reduction from the 1980 levels previously estimated by Changsheng Li, a biogeochemist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.”

              Source: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090818/full/news.2009.833.html

              Besides, methane is a natural gas that can be used as an inexpensive fuel and source of energy! Why we are not using it? Instead, we prefer to perpetuate on our societites the arab oil empire while promoting the fraud of global warming as one of the main weapons of the global fraud of Agenda 21.

              “But the fact is that farmers do plant a very genetically homogenous batch of seeds already when they buy traditional hybrid seeds.”

              The planetary invaders, the COLON+ists, during many centuries and continue to do the same today, they are removing the seeds and the diversity of the planet to unterraform the Earth, to transform the Planet Earth so as to resemble a synthetic organism, especially so that it can support artificial life! They have military and scientific connections because they are infiltrated in those key areas that control the world. They have bunkers and underground bases where they saved the seeds! They want uniformity! They don’t want people to have diversity of seeds dispersed across the Planet, as many centuries ago it was common on the planet before the invasion, Humans and animals used to live with a lot of diversity! At that time most of the Humans and Animals did not need to eat meat constantly because they had a huge variety of seeds, plants, vegetables, and fruits! They want to transform the Human and Animal Species into a reptile cold blood type with the central nervous system adapted to cybernetic and transhumanist devices, like they are, using only the first 3 chakras, the chakras of sexual instinct and survival!

              The hybrid seeds was the first step after invasion, because they want to sterilize everything and everyone! But not all farmers in the world are using those seeds. Many farmers around the world are well aware of these agendas and refuse to use such seeds, continuing to use their traditional techniques with seeds that are not hybrids, protecting and sharing them so that they propagate again in the world contrary to what the colon-ists (colonels) invaders are doing to destroy life on the planet!

              Like

    • Jon says:

      Last time I looked, the “Certified Organic” program was run by the marketing department of the USDA. And the Organic Standards Committee had only 1 farmer on it, the rest was comprised of politicians and ag lobbyists. Now, those things by themselves don’t make it bad but can you see how it could be? Also, one of the common tropes of the anti-GMO/pro-organic crowd is “Follow the Money”. Well, when I see lobbyists and marketing teams involved, my first thought isn’t science.

      Like

    • Henry Kissinger once said: “Who controls the food supply controls the people; Who controls the energy can control whole continents; Who controls money can control the world;

      How can they do this? By GMO’s! GMO’s is a weapon of mass destruction! Those demons have destroyed the agricultural diversity for centuries! They want to seize all means of production in the hands of a small group of corporations that want to patent and control the earth and their resources, so that at the right moment they can spread hunger in the world by controlling the food and removing the diversity and livelihoods of global population!

      GMO’s does not allow the cooperation in the soil and the cooperation between the plants and does not respect the intelligence in each of these living systems to play it’s role! Every living system is a self-organized system, that’s what makes living systems living, they are self-organized! Any system that is externally organized must become competitive, and that applies to external input systems in agriculture (GMO’s) and it applies to external input systems in the society when we stop defining ourselfs as who we are, what we want and what we love to do and gives us joy.

      The main objective of GMO tecnologies is not to end poverty or hunger, it’s to create poverty and hunger! The main purpose of those tecnologies is to destroy and substitute the diversity and tradicional methods of agriculture in the world! That’s why Germans are not stupid to wipe out the Nazi BASF corporation and GMO’s from Germany and know very well the impact that GMO’s have on the soils! A synthesized organism stops responding correctly to the elements of nature, and only works properly with synthetic elements! That’s the main purpose of the GMO agenda! Unterraform! Transform the Planet Earth so as to resemble a synthetic organism, especially so that it can support artificial life!

      Like

  7. Shared with Mostly Science’s Facebook page. Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Missylulu says:

    Thanks so much for yet another great post! I would actually be really interested in seeing a post about the USDA standards that allow a food product to qualify as organic. I’d also be interested in reading a post comparing it to the standards in other countries. I don’t know how interesting that would be, and you touched on the different standards briefly (that other countries may put restrictions on petroleum-based fertilizers), so maybe that is the extent of it, but if there is more out there I would be very curious. I’d also be curious as to the cost of becoming certified organic and more details on the effects on biodiversity of the allowable pesticides and herbicides and in general and the farming practices that you briefly addressed in your article here (like needing more resources and more space). I’d just like to learn a bit more about this process in detail. Thanks so much again!

    Like

  9. decourse says:

    I’m going to nitpick your nitpick: “GMO” is not an acronym. An acronym is an abbreviation which is pronounced as a word (e.g. “radar”, “scuba”, “laser”). An abbreviation which is pronounced as separate letters (e.g. “FBI”, “IBM”, “DVD”) is technically called an initialism.

    Like

  10. Mrhuh says:

    Let me just say that I love this cool-headed article SO MUCH.

    Like

  11. alpha says:

    It would be very good post if it was not so simple.

    1. Toxins in the article are treated only as a substances which are lethal. The world is not as simple as this. There are many substances which are toxic under long exposure. One example are PAH (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon ) and especially BaP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzo(a)pyrene). You do not need lethal dose to be severely affected. One example is PAH in smog, which cause lowering intelligence. The doses are very low compared to toxic levels of BaP (NDS for BaP is 2000ng/m^3 – http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100F/mono100F-14.pdf)

    Here are the results of research (one of many):
    https://thelogicofscience.com/2016/08/16/4-meaningless-words-toxin-natural-organic-and-gmo/
    “We found that higher (above the median of 17.96 ng/m3) prenatal exposure to airborne PAHs (range, 1.8–272.2 ng/m3) was associated with decreased RCPM scores at 5 years of age, after adjusting for potential confounding variables (n = 214). Further adjusting for maternal intelligence, lead, or dietary PAHs did not alter this association. The reduction in RCPM score associated with high airborne PAH exposure corresponded to an estimated average decrease of 3.8 IQ points”

    2. Does “the dose make the poison”?
    There are chemical compounds that are not treated by our bodies as toxins. I mean ‘hormones’. The way hormones works in our bodies is quite different. While during our evolution we developed methods to deal with toxins (as the liver you wrote about), we didn’t have any chance to develop any biological mechanism to deal with chemical compounds which mimics hormones. We simply didn’t have a chance during evolution to adapt to them. Maybe after another 1-2 milion years we will have got used to todays chemical compounds that acts like hormones.

    Thera are scientific papers dealing with that problem
    http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/NewScience/lowdose/2007/2007-0525nmdrc.html

    I agree with one thing – it’s not toxicity but rather the word ‘conamination’ would be better. Nevertheless I think you shouldn’t omit such thing while writing about ‘toxins’.

    3. Antibiotics – there is another group of chemical compounds which have indirect effect on our lives.

    And yes – in a way they are not toxic, their levels are high below any toxicity, but nevertheless their ubiquitous usage would have catastrophic impact on future generations.

    From one side: in the post you say that people use those terms (e.g. “toxins”) not precisely enough. On the other hand your post treat them very, very lightly. Yo haven’t even touch the problem. I expect that such post should not treat the subject in a narrow way (simple definition from dictionary). I gave only 3 examples for one of the subject.

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  12. alpha says:

    It would be very good post if it was not so simple.

    1. Toxins in the article are treated only as a substances which are lethal. The world is not as simple as this. There are many substances which are toxic under long exposure. One example are PAH (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon ) and especially BaP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzo(a)pyrene). You do not need lethal dose to be severely affected. One example is PAH in smog, which cause lowering intelligence. The doses are very low compared to toxic levels of BaP (NDS for BaP is 2000ng/m^3 – http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100F/mono100F-14.pdf)

    Here are the results of research (one of many):
    https://thelogicofscience.com/2016/08/16/4-meaningless-words-toxin-natural-organic-and-gmo/
    “We found that higher (above the median of 17.96 ng/m3) prenatal exposure to airborne PAHs (range, 1.8–272.2 ng/m3) was associated with decreased RCPM scores at 5 years of age, after adjusting for potential confounding variables (n = 214). Further adjusting for maternal intelligence, lead, or dietary PAHs did not alter this association. The reduction in RCPM score associated with high airborne PAH exposure corresponded to an estimated average decrease of 3.8 IQ points”

    2. Does “the dose make the poison”?
    There are chemical compounds that are not treated by our bodies as toxins. I mean ‘hormones’. The way hormones works in our bodies is quite different. While during our evolution we developed methods to deal with toxins (as the liver you wrote about), we didn’t have any chance to develop any biological mechanism to deal with chemical compounds which mimics hormones. We simply didn’t have a chance during evolution to adapt to them. Maybe after another 1-2 milion years we will have got used to todays chemical compounds that acts like hormones.

    Thera are scientific papers dealing with that problem
    http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/NewScience/lowdose/2007/2007-0525nmdrc.html

    I agree with one thing – it’s not toxicity but rather the word ‘conamination’ would be better. Nevertheless I think you shouldn’t omit such thing while writing about ‘toxins’.

    3. Antibiotics – there is another group of chemical compounds which have indirect effect on our lives.

    And yes – in a way they are not toxic, their levels are high below any toxicity, but nevertheless their ubiquitous usage would have catastrophic impact on future generations.

    From one side: in the post you say that people use those terms (e.g. “toxins”) not precisely enough. On the other hand your post treat them very, very lightly. Yo haven’t even touch the problem. I expect that such post should not treat the subject in a narrow way (simple definition from dictionary). I gave only 3 examples for one of the subjects.

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    • Fallacy Man says:

      I don’t really follow your criticism. The point of the post was that the word “toxin” as it is typically used is meaningless because any chemical can become a toxin at a high enough dose. Nothing in your post disagrees with that, so I don’t really follow your point.

      Similarly, I’m not sure why you think that I was only referring to lethal effects, because that was never stated or implied. Even for sub-lethal effects, the dose makes the poison. A dose over an extended period of time is still a type of dose. In other words, it is not the chemical itself that is the problem, it is the level of exposure that is problematic.

      Hormones and antibiotics aren’t ever refereed to as “toxins” (at least I have never heard anyone call them that), which is why I left them out. Once again, I don’t follow your point, because you seem to be saying that I am using the term “toxin” too narrowly because I didn’t talk about things that no one typically calls toxins. That doesn’t make sense. It’s like complaining that a Toyota dealership doesn’t have any Fords for sale. Additionally, even with hormones and antibiotics, the dose is what matters, not the chemical itself. If you inject someone with 0.000001 mg of testosterone, for example, nothing is going to happen, but if you inject them with 1 kg of testosterone, very bad things are going to happen. So it all comes back to the dose.

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      • You are using the fallacy of the texas sharpshooter and the strawman fallacy. You are confusing your readers trying to deveive them in accepting everything they put in their bodies passing a false concept of toxins! This is not a question of any chemical can become a toxin at a high enough dose, this is a question of what is really a toxin, that is, a foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not normally naturally produced by or expected to be present within that organism, Xenobiotics, foreign chemical compounds to an organism or biological system.

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        • Fallacy Man says:

          Whether a chemical is natural or synthetic has no bearing on how toxic it is. Please re-read the post and re-take high school chemistry and biology

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          • I’m not comparing synthetic chemicals with natural chemicals. I’m remind you what is a toxin: a foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not normally naturally produced by or expected to be present within that organism, Xenobiotics, foreign chemical compounds to an organism or biological system. I will say it again adding something important: GMO’s does not allow the cooperation in the soil and the cooperation between the plants and does not respect the intelligence in each of these living systems to play it’s role! Every living system is a self-organized system, that’s what makes living systems living, they are self-organized! Any system that is externally organized must become competitive, and that applies to external input systems in agriculture (GMO’s) and it applies to external input systems in the society when we stop defining ourselfs as who we are, what we want and what we love to do and gives us joy.

            The main objective of GMO tecnologies is not to end poverty or hunger! The main purpose of those tecnologies is to destroy and substitute the tradicional methods of agriculture in the world! That’s why Germans are not stupid to wipe out BASF and GMO’s from Germany and know very well the impact that GMO’s have on the soils! A synthesized organism stops responding correctly to the elements of nature, and only works properly with synthetic elements! That’s the main purpose of the GMO agenda! Unterraform! Transform the Planet Earth so as to resemble a synthetic organism, especially so that it can support artificial life!

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      • alpha says:

        What you say is oversimplification. ‘the dose make the poision’ is classic toxilogical simplification which is not alwyas true. Not all pollutants have linear (or even monotonical) effeects. In most cases for short term exposure it’s OK. But it’s not true for long term exposure.

        Hera you have scientific examples of such chemical compounds
        http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/NewScience/lowdose/2007/2007-0525nmdrc.html
        “While exposure in the womb to 100 parts per billion of the estrogenic drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) causes mice to become scrawny as adults, exposure to a much lower amount, 1 ppb, causes grotesque obesity. ”

        What is more I really do not know why are you excluding hormones and antibiotics. They are chemical compounds (really) as any other chemical compounds. And these are not alwyas hormones which does not obey ‘dose make the poison’ rule. There are chemical compounds which are not strictly hormones but act like hormones.

        And do not give examples with 15 orders of magnitude (10^-9g and 10^3g). It proves nothing because interesting things happens deeply inside this region. And it’s not that you have choice in life to have permanent exposure differences of 12 orders of magnitude of some pollutant substances. If you think otherwise – give me an example of chemical substance in food where the difference of amount in two similar products is 12 orders of magnitude. Stick to life not abstaction.

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        • Fallacy Man says:

          I still don’t follow your criticism. I agree with essentially everything that you are saying, but it is irrelevant to the point of the post.

          Let me try to explain things this way. Many people are under the impression that there are “toxic” chemicals and “safe” chemicals, and the “toxic” ones (refereed to as “toxins”) are always bad (i.e., they think that it is the chemical itself that is dangerous). My point, is that this dichotomy is totally false. The chemical itself is not the problem, it is the dose (or exposure if you prefer) that causes problems. Yes, that relationship is often complicated (I never said that the relationship was linear or even monotonical), but that is beside the point. The point is that some doses/exposures are safe, whereas others are not. For example, you said “In most cases for short term exposure it’s OK. But it’s not true for long term exposure.” and I agree completely, but that is still under the realm of “the dose makes the poison.” In this case, we are simply referring to a repeated dose over time as opposed to a short dose once, but the central point remains: the chemical itself is not the problem, it is the amount/frequency of exposure that is the problem.

          As far as hormones and antibiotics, again, I completely agree that they are chemicals and can be harmful under some conditions, but my point with them is that they are not generally refereed to or thought of as “toxins” and the purpose of this post was simply to dispel the myths surrounding that word.

          Regarding testosterone, you again seem to be missing my point. The exact dose that I gave for the high amount is completely irrelevant. The point is that there is a dose at which it is safe and there is a dose at which it is harmful. That is the only point of my discussion of toxins: it’s not the chemicals themselves, it’s the dose (or exposure if you prefer, but again that’s just two different ways of saying the same thing).

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          • alpha says:

            The problem is that we do not know the exact dose that is safe for long exposure.

            In theory you are right. In practice it’s good for nothing.

            Can you tell me what is safe level of long time exposure for benzo(alpha)pirene? By long exposure I mean lifetime (let say 70 years). Of course it should be based on good quality research.

            If you do not know the “dose” how do you know if it is (or it isn’t) “poison”?

            My point is – that saying that “chemical is a poision” is oversimplification. But your post is also “ovesrsimplification”. This way both are meaningless.

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            • Fallacy Man says:

              The fact that we don’t know what the dangerous dose/exposure is doesn’t in anyway negate my claim. Saying that there it is the dose that matters not the chemical itself is not an oversimplification, it is a fact. I don’t need to know the toxic dose/exposure of every single chemical for that claim to be true.

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  13. The main objective of GMO tecnologies is not to end poverty and hunger! The main purpose of those tecnologies is to destroy and substitute the tradicional methods of agriculture in the world! That’s why Germans are not stupid and know very well the impact that GMO’s have on the soils! A synthesized organism stops responding correctly to the elements of nature, and only works properly with synthetic elements! That’s the main purpose of the GMO agenda! Unterraform! Transform the Planet Earth so as to resemble a synthetic organism, especially so that it can support artificial life!

    Like

    • cosmicaug says:

      So much wrong I really don’t know where to start.

      I suppose we could start by what you are actually getting right:
      Germans exist.

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      • If so much is wrong, at least say one thing that prove that I’m wrong. GMO’s are a weapon of mass destruction created to monopolize the food industry in order to spread enslavement and hunger in the world! That’s why Germans wiped out the BASF Nazi corporation from their country, in the same way they wiped out the nazis that in exchange for technological information they received asylum in the united states and formerly created the central intelligence to continue the nazi regime agenda! Hello Bush, Hello Hillary, Hello Trump!

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  14. cosmicaug says:

    Note: You may be tempted to say that a GMO is simply, “an organism that was produced by genetic engineering” but that doesn’t really solve the problem, because you then need a non-arbitrary definition for GE which excludes mutation breeding, selective breeding, and what happens in nature, without excluding any crops that are typically thought of as GMOs. So you still have the exact same problem.

    I would suggest that the word “engineering” suggests a planning ahead and the creation of a design to be implemented in a specific way. It implies a level of precision in the modification that is lacking in the other methodologies (although I would argue that the mutation breeding when it was done at the service of developing the Clearfield traits should qualify as engineering even if those traits were not genetically engineered).

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