« Friday Hitchens | Main | Links With Your Coffee - Sunday »

Links With Your Coffee - Friday

Coffee Cup

As you may already know, the Environmental Working Group is a 501(c)(3) NGO with the goal of protecting “kids from toxic chemicals in our food, water, air and the products we use every day”. One of their major efforts is the yearly Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides™.

EWG gives many many reasons why they think you should use the guide, specifying that you (the consumer) should eat organic or at least choose the Clean 15™ over the Dirty Dozen™:

Biological systems are extremely complex. This nugget of wisdom may seem trivial but it is a lesson the scientific and medical communities have been learning over and over again for a couple of centuries. Every time we think we understand a biological system we find there is a deeper level of complexity, or another layer of interactions we had not previously taken into consideration.

This is why we need high quality clinical trials to feel confident about the net health effects of any intervention. A treatment may make sense based upon our current understanding of human biology, but that’s not enough. We need to know what it actually does to people.

This is a lesson, however, that the supplement industry has not learned (and does not appear interested in learning).



The Google vs Apple vs Exxon link doesn't work.

Thanks, it's now fixed. Sorry about that.

Apparently you haven't watched the video documentary that I posted, "The World According to Monsanto". It can be found under the title "Controlling Our Food", on youtube.

At the very best, Bt cotton is productive for one year. Unfortunately, Monsanto has bought up India's main seed supplier, so farmers don't really have a choice and the number of farmer suicides keeps rising because they cannot pay Monsanto.

Your "documentary" is not accurate. There is no evidence that Farmers are committing suicide as the result of Monsanto BT seeds for example.

At the very best, Bt cotton is productive for one year.

You don't get to make up your facts. What do you even mean by productive. The Bt modification is one that helps control pests, and that doesn't stop after one year.

re: Dirty Dozen

Re: pesticides in food.

We don't know what small doses of pesticides to, especially to children. EPA is guessing. The more we learn, about how even small quantities of pesticides can cause endocrine disruption, the more concerned we should be. Further, with such things as pesticide laden GE sugarbeets being stuffed into sugared products without labels, the more pesticides we and our kids are unknowingly consumed.

However, we gotta eat. The advise I give every customer at the farmer's market, is WASH YOUR PRODUCE. Mine may be Certified Organic, but it's still grown in dirt.

For those who shop at Farmer's Markets, who might want to hand a fresh carrot or plum to the kid who's tired of shopping, ASK if the vendor has water to rinse it with. Many if not most, do bring big jugs of water to the market just for that purpose, and are happy to encourage their customers to rinse off food they are going to eat out of hand.

We don't know what small doses of pesticides to, especially to children. EPA is guessing.

They are applying the best science we have to the problem, to characterize that as guessing is hyperbole.

However, we gotta eat.

And what is it you suggest to the mother who has trouble affording any vegetables for her children let alone vegetables that cost two or three times as much as conventional, and what guarantees do we have that everything used in organic farming is safe? And where is the evidence or are they "guessing" too.

We can agree that it is a good idea to rinse your produce. It looks to me like you want a no risk food supply and that organic or conventional simply doesn't exist. We should apply the best science we have to the question.

What was not accurate in the documentary I mentioned? You can look up Indian farmer suicides on google or youtube.

But it is not only Indian farmers that suffer.

There is the question of Monsantos rBgh for milk cows. This is to produce more milk when we already have too much.

A reminder

You can look up Indian farmer suicides on google or youtube.

Are you fucking kidding me you're citing google and youtube as evidence. I'm sorry but you'll have to be more specific than that. You can find crap on google making the case for holocaust denial, does that make it true?

I'm not sure if bernarda has the right idea, but from the facts I've seen, Monsanto is pretty fucking evil. I wouldn't want them involved with anything that ends up in my mouth, but frighteningly, they probably are, and I have no say in the matter unless I grow my own goddamn food.

In general, I tend to be pretty critical of patents (especially when they involve life-forms) and the oxymoron "intellectual property".

Here are some links on the issue that I just dug up. Hopefully they have more value and veracity than the ranting on HuffPo and YouTube:

PS. I haven't had time yet to go through all the information at those links. My apologies if it seems like a bit of a drive-by infodump.

Bernarda just throws shit at the wall and hopes some of it sticks. I'm no fan of Monsanto, but lets stick to the facts:

Here is a quote from one of the links you provided:

Results from a new investigation into the tragic phenomenon of Indian farmers' suicides and the alleged link with genetically modified (GM) cotton have been published. The International Food Policy Research Institute's (IFPRI) analysis released in October provides the most robust evidence yet that suicide among farmers in India has several causes, but Bt cotton is not a major factor. Indeed, the authors of the report, Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India: Reviewing the Evidence, argue that insect-resistant cotton encoding the cry1Ac toxin gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been very effective in India overall, notwithstanding the significant levels of variation that individual farmers have experienced with the technology. The study is unlikely to be the last word on what remains a highly emotive question, given both the chaotic conditions under which adoption of transgenic hybrid varieties in India proceeded at the start of this decade and the lack of solid data underpinning the very real and complex tragedy of farmer suicide in the country.

The crap about the suicides being the result of Bt Cotton has been repeated so many times by so many that many believe it's true. The evidence just doesn't support that conclusion. That wont keep the bernardas from continuing to make unsubstantiated claims. I mean really, he googled it and watched some youtube videos.

I don't see the need for insults. The videos I list are documentaries or extracts, not some fool ranting. I have mentioned the names of researchers and I don't just pick out any private individual site.

How does anyone find information, or disinformation, these days most use a search engine. Then you have to judge whether the site is reliable and honest or not.

Readers can read my links and decide for themselves if they are credible.

So does this mean you've abandoned your Bt Cotton is responsible for the suicide of Indian farmers claim?

Indeed the readers can follow the links and decide. I've watched many of the documentaries on Monsanto and while they get some of it right, there is much they simply get wrong. Fools ranting is an apt description when for instance they paint Percy Schmeiser as some sort of a hero.

Other shitty sites I can use are the Indian paper The Hindu.

"Many share his mistrust. This is one State where the Government has gone out of its way to promote Bt cotton. Even though some top officers have expressed grave doubts over this path. This is not new. Last year, the State's Agriculture Commissioner gave the Government of India a report that said "no significant differences were observed" between Bt and non-Bt varieties of cotton. Except, of course in terms of the price of Bt cotton seed — which the report found was not "a justifiable cost." Some basic myths were undermined. "On an average 3 to 5 sprayings were given to both Bt and non-Bt. The attack of sucking pest was reported on both." It also said its field officers found Bt cotton's performance "not satisfactory." And that in some cases, "non-Bt varieties yield better than Bt varieties." Despite this, Ministers, MLAs, and film stars were roped in to promote Bt cotton."

Or PBS, "The Dying Fields".

While Norm uses a site quoting someone who works for the Warwick Manufacturing Group, whatever that is.


I agree with this. The Hindu is one of the best papers in India and I would not disregard their reporting. In India, it is mostly corruption and twistng of the facts. Being Indian I know this as I have experienced it personally. Scientific reports? Give a few thoussand rupees and you can change facts to how you like them. Farmers do commit suicude because they cannot meet the exorbitant prices that BT charges, and if their crops fail due to weather or other reasons, its end game for them. The cheaper non BT varieties atleast leaves them with some money and other options. Thats the plain truth.

I've seen some pretty shaky reporting from the Hindu. I like my sources better, Nature for example.

But in the end farmers can choose whatever seed they want to use. Those opposed to genetically engineered seeds paint the farmers as if they're idiots. I don't believe it. Nobody goes on year after year buying the same seed unless they get some benefit from it, or unless they are just plain stupid.

If you've read some of the literature on the subject. There are those unscrupulous souls who sell counterfeit seeds claiming they are Bt when they are not. Furthermore, you not only need a seed with the Bt trait but one that is suited for the specific environment it is going to be used in. My understanding is that in cases where the seeds didn't work out it was not because of the Bt trait but rather that the seed wasn't designed for the local environment.

i dunno, norm. defending megacorporations as the best way to feed the poor sounds kind of...libertarian to me.

"give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. teach a man to fish and he'll sit around in a boat all day with his buddies drinking beer."


lol.. I like that one.

Looks like you're not the only one to think that Bernarda is a man. Norm also thinks so. The 'a' at the end of her name might be an itty bitty clue that she's a female, dontcha think?

I gave up long ago trying to determine what sex the readers are. It goes back to that song, "A Guy Named Sue."

It ends with an a, ah, so Norm is a guy and Norma is a gal, I get it.

I don't think Norm is "defending a corporation in order to feed the world." It sounds more like scrutinizing questionable claims (and they do sound questionable) to address what appears to be misinformation about a promising science. Thus, the only thing Norm is defending is science against what appears to be a form of guilt by association (Monsanto bad, therefore, GMO bad).

And you seem to be poisoning the well by suggesting that Norm's argument sounds vaguely libertarian. Even if there is a parallel, does that mean it's invalid... simply because libertarian thinks it too?

And no, I'm not a libertarian.

It goes back to that song, "A Guy Named Sue."


And Voltaire's name was François-Marie Arouet. One might get confused. And then there's 'Sam' which can go either way.

We should simply switch from growing mostly cotton to mostly industrial hemp for fabrics. Cotton is a finicky plant that needs a lot of spraying, fertilizers and it depletes the soil.

Hemp make great fabrics, can grow almost anywhere with no irrigation, does not need fertilizers or pesticides or fungicides and actually can improve poor soils.

They are starting to use the refuse from hemp production as a building material. Hemp mixed with lime used for housing is the new, improved adobe or straw bale wall material. Great thermal mass and insulation properties. And it is cheap.

Hemp should be used everywhere for crop rotation. Makes wonderful fabrics, and beautiful paper, too.

But I thought only dirty hippies were pro-hemp! And isn't hemp another word for... marijuana? Gasp!


Support this site

Google Ads

Powered by Movable Type Pro

Copyright © 2002-2017 Norman Jenson


Commenting Policy

note: non-authenticated comments are moderated, you can avoid the delay by registering.

Random Quotation

Individual Archives

Monthly Archives