The scary truth behind fear of GMOs

“First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt, about the hunger and desperation of the American people during the depression. Today, there is also fear, though we are in a time of relative plenty.
The National Science Foundation surveys a representative sample of Americans every two years. The General Social Survey asks about general attitudes about science in general and about specific science topics. For a quick overview of the highlights, see Everything Americans Know About Science in Seven Graphs by Sara Chodosh.
One positive finding: Americans are worried about climate change. Whether that translates into action or political will is another question. In this post, I’ll focus on the questions about genetically engineered foods, commonly called GMOs. According to the NSF, “data suggest that concern about GE food is increasing”.

Fear of GMOs is increasing

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NSF General Social Survey data showing public assessment of the danger of modifying genes of crops to the environment. Responses from all adults shown (n = 1,276 in 2000; 1,430 in 2010; 911 in 2016). Graph by Anastasia Bodnar.

The results from 2016 are strikingly different from results in 2000 and 2010. The number of respondents who find GMOs dangerous shot up to 79% in 2016, while just 18% thought GMOs are not dangerous, and 4% said they did not know. People are becoming more certain in their fear, not a good sign.
Women were more fearful than men. Those with more science knowledge or higher levels of education are less fearful than those who have less knowledge or are less educated. Age was not a factor. The fear of GMOs is confirmed by other research on public opinion, such as by Pew Research Center’s comparison of how scientists and the public view science issues.
These results may not accurately describe how Americans feel about GMOs. If you ask people what are the top things they are concerned about when it comes to food, GMOs hardly make the list. People care much more about quality and cost. For example, in a 2013 study from Rutgers University, researchers asked “What information would you like to see on food labels that is not already on there?” Only 7% raised the issue of GMO labeling, and only 6% wanted more info about where or how the food was grown or processed. When people are specifically asked about GMOs, the number of people who want them labeled increases sharply. An overwhelming majority of people also want mandatory labels on food containing DNA, when asked specifically about DNA in food. Prompting people about specific food characteristics clearly leads to results that are skewed higher than if questions are asked without a prompt.

Why are people so afraid of GMOs?

Selling fear is lucrative. It’s really hard to fundraise when your message is “food is pretty safe”. Multiple organizations and individuals have made names for themselves by scaring people about GMOs. Journalists, trained to seek out both sides of a story, often give these organizations and individuals space to promote their biased, incorrect information. While I think a fair amount of blame can be placed in the hands of a few, there are some larger issues here.

Little red barn. Photo of Woodchuck Farm by William Garrett, enhanced by Dianne Lacourciere using textures by Distressed Jewel.
Little red barn. Photo of Woodchuck Farm by William Garrett, enhanced by Dianne Lacourciere using textures by Distressed Jewel.

People accept all sorts of technologies in medicine and cosmetics but have different ideas when it comes to food. Most of us have an idyllic scene in our minds of a little red barn and some peaceful cows, maybe an apple tree. The realities of farming have never met that image, but while we might be able to accept a robot apple picker, many of us don’t like the idea of pesticides, manipulated genes, or even “chemicals” in our food. Organic and “natural” food marketing have taken advantage of this idyllic view of farming.
As farming has become more industrialized and more efficient, the number of farms (and number of farmers) has steeply declined. Most people don’t know any farmers, and have never visited a farm. Consumers don’t understand why a farmer might need to use pesticides or the economic forces causing farm consolidation. The media rightly publicizes stories like the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, but people aren’t hearing stories about how technologies and practices are making farms more sustainable. Larger concerns about industrialization and consolidation have been projected onto biotechnology, such that all ills of agriculture are blamed on GMOs.
Scientists and science communicators are also partially to blame for GMO fear. The language we choose influences what people see. Academic and government sources tend to use the terms biotechnology, transgenic, or genetic engineering, and rarely use the term GMO. That means that scientific or government sources rarely appear when people are searching for information on this topic. You can see the effect of language by doing an image search for the different terms. Imagery matters, and the imagery associated with GMOs is not accurate to say the least.
Lastly, we may at least partially blame irrational fears about GMOs on the Russians. Yes, the Russians. As reported in the Des Moines Register, Russian propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik “produced more articles containing the word GMO than five [US] news organizations combined.” Further, “RT and Sputnik overwhelmingly portrayed genetic modification in a negative light.” The preprint is now available: Sowing the seeds of skepticism: Russian state news and the anti-GMO movement. The propaganda fits with a resurgence of anti-science sentiment in Russia.

Does it matter what people think about GMOs?

Fear of biotechnology can have negative impacts, both for current agriculture, and as we look to the future. Currently, we have only a handful of foods that are genetically engineered. See my post How to Avoid GMOs to learn exactly which ones. The GMOs we have are being used for good reasons. Virus resistant papaya saved the papaya industry. Without it, Hawaiian papaya farmers would go out of business. Insect resistant corn has reduced insecticide use, decreased deadly fungal toxins, and increased yields. Herbicide tolerant soybeans allowed farmers to use a less toxic herbicide (though not so much in corn). These aren’t perfect, but they have provided value to farmers, to the environment, and to consumers. Take those options away, and agriculture becomes less sustainable, not more.
Fear of biotechnology matters more as we look to the future. Traditional breeding is powerful, but has its limits. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples of biotech traits that could be hugely beneficial, if only they could be commercialized and accepted by consumers. Just in the past few months, there have been papers about rice with decreased arsenic, disease resistant wheathealthier oil from soybeans, and salt tolerant soybeans.
If you can find a gene or group of genes that causes a desired trait, biotechnology can potentially be used to edit the genes directly (gene editing), to cause a gene or genes to be expressed in a new tissue or at higher levels (cisgenesis), or to move a gene or genes from one species into another (transgenesis). Gene editing might replace some need for cisgenesis and transgenesis. But activist groups see gene editing as just more GMOs. And even if gene editing can escape overly stringent regulation, developers still have to face public opinion.
Here’s just one example of the damage that can be caused by irrational fear of biotechnology. Drought tolerant corn has already proceeded through safety approvals in South Africa and is available for purchase. Unfortunately, many other African countries continue to restrict or ban use of agricultural biotechnology, despite proven benefits. Tanzania allowed field trials, but ultimately required all of the grain to be burned while people in the country go hungry.

Written by Anastasia Bodnar

Anastasia Bodnar is a science communicator and science policy expert with a PhD in plant genetics and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Anastasia has had various risk analysis roles in US government and military service. She serves as BFI's Director of Policy and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog.

214 comments

  1. It is very important that we continue to expose the massive fear machine that is the international anti-GMO industry. The public is slowly learning of this massive deception to generate money selling alternative products. This will not end well for those who lie to the [public.

    1. That is the problem, we all lie too often to the public, either unintentionally or intentionally. Nobody can be assured of always being right, we just need to constantly improve… that is why the stars quo is not yet good enough.

      1. Are you implying I have ever lied to the public. Please bring forward your evidence as that accusation is a direct assault on my character and I will not let it go unchallenged.

        1. No, you have probably been far more right than I have, but I doubt that you have never ever stated any misinformation to the public. If you have ‘never ever’ misspoken, or ever changed your opinion after further insight and research dictated… you are a far more worthy spokesperson than I.

          1. Thank you for clarifying your post. I am accused of lying almost daily by the anti-GMO industry. I have worked for a very long time to build my science reputation and I would not risk it by posting incorrect information. if I am not sure of a point I do further research until I am sure.

        1. Sure, that is possible, I am capable of blundering on some points like anyone else. I have not catalogued dates and times and analytically documented each example of exposure scenarios mentioned above, and done all QA/QC to sample and analyze to the nth degree, but these scenarios have happened, and were not investigated adequately by any regulatory agency IMHO. I have observed several investigation attempts by regulator agencies, and have NOT been left with any confidence in the results and conclusions. Some of the investigatory processes, if you were to have been there, you would probably even agree with me that they were ludicrously attempted… and resulted in complainants being treated as less than they should have been.
          I do know that these issues are not directly relating to the discussion of GE, or even GMOs, but because they ARE associated with pesticide use problems perceived by the public from substantial herbicide-ready crop best management practices…. GE often gets slammed in the public eye.
          That is just the reality that the industry needs to address better when moving forward. I don’t think that it is helpful to trash-talk the public for their lack of understanding the issues as well as you might. Some of the comments here are full of language that shows disdain with anyone that would even begin to question any corporate AG practices. Most of the ‘organic conspiracy’ I am familiar with is far from the vilified status claimed, but perhaps the bigger OG politic has developed objectionable management practices that I am not familiar with.But when some member comments vilify my friends and family that are small scale organic farmers, such hatred seems misplaced to say the least, and counterproductive to gaining confidence in corporate AG practices.

          1. “I do know that these issues are not directly relating to the discussion of GE, or even GMOs…”
            Then why are you trying to conflate issues. Why don’t you find a venue to write your imaginary chemical problem missives rather than an article about GE in agriculture?

          2. Because hardly anyone is talking about pesticides. This is a huge industry and ag promoter blind spot. I’ve seen people actively denying health risks of pesticies to applicators… it’s not ok. Pesticides are dangerous, and we should treat them as such.

          3. I haven’t claimed there aren’t health risks. I’m a certified applicator in IA and I’ve got a better than average science background so I’m pretty well informed on the subject. Glyphosate, which the anti-GE industry tries to equate to GE and which they are trying to vilify, is one of the most benign ag chemicals out there. On the other end of the spectrum is gramoxone, which, if you don’t know what you’re doing, can kill you before you even get it mixed in the sprayer tank.
            And I remember the old days before Bt corn, when we’d buy pallets and pallets (thousands of pounds) of Lorsban (an organophosphate insecticide) granules, apply it with a broadcast spreader than then mix it in with a finisher. I don’t miss those days at all. I’m sure the beneficial insects don’t miss it either. And I’m looking forward to developments like RNAi insecticides.
            I object to people like Ray who make nebulous, rambling and fact-free accusations about modern agriculture. I’ll be more than happy to debate facts with anyone, but he doesn’t seem to be able to do that, just like Steve Kersey couldn’t debate facts last wek. There is a certain percentage of the population who are completely ideologically-driven and want to turn back the clock on agriculture by a century but don’t have a problem using the latest technology to do their dirty work.

          4. Yes, and back in those ‘old days’ agriculture was quick to deny risks in a very offhand patronizing way. The problem is that how do you expect to not even have to overcome the consequences of those years of smugness that taught many people they had better become OG rather than buy the conventional nonchalant misinformation? Yes, things may be improves significantly these days, but excessive smugness still does a disservice to the cause of building confidence in conventional AG practices…. you reap what you sow.

          5. Yes seriously, my friends and their circles of extended connections of friends are the most precious source I know of that contribute to my view of the world and of agriculture. Many of them hold PHDs in related fields, and many are medical doctors. I find that their thinking processes are showing far more acuity to science than the apparent thinking processes encountered with many comments on this forum, however that does not mean much because this venue does not really make it easy to get know you all in as much detail as I know my friends. If I were to really get to know many of you I might come to even more respect of your knowledge and positions. But, until I notice greater potential knowledge here than from my world, I am very much biased toward seeing my circle of friends as being better educated in an overall understanding of reality including, scientific method.
            I respect you all, and your work, more than you seem to think, but not more in general than my friends and their friends.

          6. When folks are unfriendly that doesn’t help! I appreciate your comments, Ray. While it’ll take some time for us to get back to a friendly atmostphere, I hope you stick around 🙂

          7. Have you looked at any of the work by Dr Zach Bush. He shows slides of what happens when glyphosate gets into the gut. The tight junctions open and allow undesirable products into the blood stream. I used to think (and was told) that glyphosate becomes inert when it hits the ground. Now it seems its one of the most polluted chemicals in our environment.

          8. My close friend lines up the speakers for local hospitals. Leaky gut is a topic that is discussed. Why would Dr’s go to the the meetings if there was nothing to leaky gut?

          9. Well, I don’t know about the research around glyphosate causing any leaky gut, but I do know about similar damage caused by the toxic metal lead. Once, damage is done to blood brain barrier integrity, other toxicants than lead can more easily enter where they should not be as well. This could be synergistic influence of glyphosate getting where it should not be, even IF it does not cause the leaks itself. My guess is that glyphosate could quite likely act as a membrane irritant, and possibly cause ‘leaky gut’, but since this question is being asked, it needs to be clarified carefully since it poses significant possibilities for toxicologic effect. Why not fund the work necessary to clarify the issue?

          10. The only thing I can say about your post is that it serves as a great example for why we need to improve science education in public schools.

          11. “Glyphosate, which the anti-GE industry tries to equate to GE and which they are trying to vilify, is one of the most benign ag chemicals out there.”
            Do you have any research studies that I could show to people that ask about how safe Glyphosate is. Did they do any long term studies on both female and male rats? Or any human studies?

          12. And Barry the Troll is JAQing off in a feeble attempt to bring up fraudster Seralini. Did your parents ignore you as a child?

          13. Well, let me say it this way. Have you seen any studies or trials with glyphosate? What were the outcomes? Were there any long term studies?

          14. If his research was not well done, why does the industry not fund doing exactly the work he was trying to do… but do it right? If this were very well done, would that not be the logical way to clarify the questions? The industry has far more at stake than he has, so why not do the work to comprehensively answer the questions?

          15. It obviously IS needed,if you want the flood of consumers to OG to start believing that you have a corner on the truth, or that that you have any grip at all on the truth-seeking of scientific method with integrity. IMHO

          16. I’m really beginning to become concerned that you have some kind of illness or cognitive impairment that’s causing you to write nothing but gibberish.

          17. Why are you so hell bent on oversimplification? Pesticides ARE pathogenic in many targeted organisms AND in many unintended organisms. ‘GMOs’ ARE strongly associated with pesticide applications in a high percentage of pesticide ready crops. Yes, this might not be a very fair characterization from your point of view since the point of developing these may often result in lower use overall and probably less dangerous pesticides used…. but, the public does not often ‘get’ these finer points and the industry has to deal with its inability to educate the public very well. It does not help your side of the argument when industry does not more carefully control applications that result in chemical trespass on to living breathing friends and family. How are going to browbeat your points of view into people that have experienced such insult?
            Would it not do much better for the cause of conventional agriculture to do more to prevent such exposures, and to show some human empathy when such exposure happens?

          18. “It does not help your side of the argument when industry does not more
            carefully control applications that result in chemical trespass on to
            living breathing friends and family. ”
            Once again you offer no facts only accusations. Bring some facts then we can talk.
            “How are going to browbeat your points of view into people that have experienced such insult?”
            People like me who work in facts don’t browbeat. Idealogues that can only make allegations in the absence of fact are the ones doing the browbeating, champ.

          19. The spray rigs in my area were running two days ago. 23mph sustained winds with 30+ mph gust. No drift here. It stopped right at the last row.

          20. “But when some member comments vilify my friends and family that are small scale organic farmers, such hatred seems misplaced to say the least, and counterproductive to gaining confidence in corporate AG practices.”
            I doubt if anyone has a problem with small-scale organic farmers. The issue is with unscrupulous advertisers and retailers who make unfounded claims that organic foods are safer, healthier, more nutritious and environmentally superior—while at the same time demonizing certain crop breeding methods. It’s these folks who undermine the credibility of you and your friends and family.
            From your comment, your main concern seems to be the health risks of human exposure to agricultural pesticides. I share your concern, and remember having driven past fields in Southern California and Arizona where the air was thick with choking fumes, which I can only think were pesticides. To me, the exposure of local people and migrant workers is of much greater concern than the trace residues found in supermarket produce.
            Surely you agree that it’s a step in the right direction for companies to develop pest-resistant crops that result in less risk for everyone? It’s a great pity that the organic “industry”claims to be concerned about pesticide exposure, but has not embraced modern breeding approaches to achieve exactly this goal.

          21. Yes, and there is a huge harm done in trying to educate if empathy for the people you are trying to educate is not adequately expressed. It is all about education, improving knowledge to benefit all of society. We can differ about the best methods to accomplish this, but we are shooting ourselves in the foot if we do not maintain enough empathy in the process.

          22. “Empathy” is asking too much, Ray.
            It’s more practical to treat people respectfully, and give them the benefit of the doubt that they are honest and well-intentioned.

          23. Yes, if ‘you doubt that anyone has a problem with small-scale organic farmers’ then the language used by many commenters is very misleading, and better word choices would seem far more productive.

          24. Well, I really do not have extensive understanding of GE/GMO techniques, but the explanations of simplicity in technique and subsequent assertions of ‘what could possibly go wrong if it is so simple to explain’, have resulted in some biochemists and medical physiologists raising very good metabolic pathway scenarios as potentially needing much better assessment for toxicologic risk than they see at present. These nagging questions put doubt into the equation. Can ppt of glyphosate damage membrane integrity in mammals? Has this been conclusively assessed, in research we can read? If not, then residue levels in crop food that reach ppb levels could be well into a range of concern that would dictate further research quickly. If conventional ‘take’ on AG glyphosate residue levels in food have been well enough studied toxicologically, it should be easy to ‘put all the cards on the table’ and put most of these questions to bed. So far, I have NOT seen enough research covering enough bases, and people that have far more biochemical education that I have still ask nagging questions that keep me more adamantly eating OG as much as possible… and I’m not alone, % is rising rapidly.

    2. We are all on the side of improving our food for the future. If we push for scientific integrity at an increasing level, we will all have a better future, and with better consensus in the process, and lying to the public will be reduced on all sides.

      1. If you drive through AG areas, with crop dusting planes working nearby fields, and you try to roll up the windows quickly to avoid the car filling with the strong odors of the sprays, do you not consider that to be off site movement resulting in chemical exposure? I’ll bet medical toxicologists would consider it to be an exposure event. What about houses nearby that have to deal with those acrid odors often? What about helicopter spray operations in forestry application in mountainous regions with lots of air movement and also pushed by hundred mile per hour downwash of the rotor blades? Many local people here have had experience with their homes being washed with chemical drift off site, pets and people have been sprayed. Do you not think that is off site chemical trespass and real exposures? What about when you child can’ run into the house fast enough to keep the chemicals from landing on them? Pets have been sprayed and had subsequent illnesses that were said by vets to be consistent with some of the spray components. Local spring drinking water systems have been contaminated after adjacent cutover land has been sprayed. In all of your experience on agricultural lands, have you never been sprayed or even smelled spray chemicals? When these chemicals enter your nose and lungs, do you not consider it any kind of exposure? When diseases like Parkinson’s are said by medical authorities quite possibly be exacerbated, if not caused by, agricultural chemical exposures in at least some cases, do you not feel any possible shadow of concern if you were to be similarly exposed, or your children? Now, I can understand if you say that you don’t think that such trifling exposures levels are beneath any level of concern you might have, but many other members of the public would not have as much confidence if their babies were in those cars driving through acrid odors past freshly sprayed fields. That is why people are concerned, and suspicious of claims that such exposures are not any real problem. They may not have actually truly suffered health limiting adverse effects, but they are often understandably scared for possible adverse effects that could actually constitute real health harm that is not currently recognized by the industry.
        People often feel that your rights end right where theirs begin, you probably agree with that. When they experience such exposures, they have a legitimate point about trespass from their neighbor landowners that are not respecting their rights. IMHO

        1. Once again you make a bunch of claims with no evidence. Just because you can smell an ag chemical doesn’t mean you’re having any kind of real exposure – just like when you smell fresh paint it doesn’t mean that you’ve gotten any paint on you or in you.
          Does off-target ag chemical application happen? Yes, but it is nowhere as big of a deal as you’re trying to make it out to be. Insurance rates reflect actual risk of a claim. I pay about $170/year for a pollution rider on top of my liability insurance that covers misapplication of chemicals and chemical spills for my 3,200 acre farm. It costs me 10 times that to insure one semi-tractor that’s used only for non-commercial grain hauling. Obviously, my insurance carrier doesn’t consider the possibility of misapplication to be an issue of significance. If you multiply my pollution rider cost by the 30,000,000 acres of farm land in Iowa, that means they expect each of Iowa’s 87,000 farms to cause an average of $18 in damage a year. Actually it’s less than $18 because insurance companies have overhead and don’t pay out 100% of what they collect in premiums, so it’s probably more like $15.

          1. Well, I do disagree with your statements above. The science of toxicology, especially low dose effects and low dose mixture exposures has made clear that such conditions ARE real exposures. Most people do not really pay much attention, unless they see people or animals going ‘belly up’ after such exposure, but medical toxicologists understand far more about medical harm coming from ‘sub clinical’ low dose physiologic changes without overt observable trauma.
            And, insurance does not get ‘tagged’ often because exposure investigations are so notoriously ineffective at collecting timely accurate samples for evidence that insurance claims are a very rare result of actual chemical trespass. The regulatory and legal authorities far too often avoid having to deal with such issues at all, let alone adequately. Sure, insurance is not reflective of the overspray events that actually happen in the real world.

          2. “The science of toxicology, especially low dose effects and low dose mixture exposures has made clear that such conditions ARE real exposures.”
            Really?? Where can I find more information?

          3. Yes, it is always good to evaluate carefully the information you are getting. My reading of the literature, obviously results in differing opinions of value of validity about low dose effects potentials in medicine. There are thousands and thousands of papers that clarify that subclinical adverse effects can have population wide public health outcomes that need to be considered.

          4. We also have to consider low dosage over time. If I’d bought that house by the corn field, how many times would we have low dose exposure over our lifetimes? More than I’d like, that’s for sure. That sort of exposure would be difficult to study. Regardless, while data is nice, we also have to think about what the public is seeing and feeling. That feeling that I don’t want to get sprayed might not be science based but it is still valid to me – as science communicators we need to take this into consideration.

          5. Ray, you say,
            “There are thousands and thousands of papers that clarify that subclinical adverse effects can have population wide public health outcomes…”
            Can you share just one or two papers that illustrate your point, especially as they relate to the OP?

          6. No, that Does mean that you have gotten it on you and in you. If a ppt level exposure can be harmful with a specific chemical, yes, such exposure could be important medically.

        2. That sounds really frustrating. I would be upset about drift if I lived in an area like that, too. I’ve spoken with agronomists who have seen planes apply pesticides without noting what is adjacent to the farm or caring who is outside, leading to similar situations as you describe with people having to run inside, kids and pets geting sprayed (becoming wet with pesticide droplets), etc. We recently moved to Iowa and we looked at a gorgeous house where the yard butted up against a corn field – I love corn but there was no way I’d risk drift onto my daughter or dog.
          The question is, what do we do about it? Pesticides are a necessary part of agriculture. Without them, yields drop and crop damage goes up. And people live where they live. A lot of folks whose home are farm-adjacent don’t have a choice to not live there. I feel that biotech is actually one of the solutions here – with Bt crops needing less insecticide. RNAi traits can be used to control other pests without pesticides.

          1. Yes, more careful land use plan processes for zoning need to help deal with these issues. Sticking our heads in the sand to avoid facing to have to deal with the problems we discover just means that pass by opportunity to make the future better… and to SAVING money by not having to continue to pay over and over again into the future for mistakes not corrected. Thanks.

          2. I am pretty sure that laws exist to protect you from being sprayed from an airplane. If this actually does occur, I would suggest you call the authorities.

          3. Yes, there are good sounding laws, but the politics of enforcement of them is a big point of breakdown in the system. The regulatory authorities are under strong political pressures that bias the process… typically.

          4. Oh, sure, those pressures. Pressures, always a good excuse when you could have just called the police and/or filed a civil lawsuit to stop this from occurring.

          5. hardly any bt crops exist that aren’t also pesticide-tolerant. Yes, people are suffering, for example – the fiasco with Monsanto’s dicamba resistant stuff. The scientists warned, again and again, but to no avail. Monsanto is slimy and always gets away with it.

          6. This is not a productive comment. Roundup has had very few cases of drift, and all of the science shows it’s a very safe herbicide. Dicamba is a separate issue and we need to consider it separately, just as we have to consider all biotech traits (and traditionally bred traits) separately.

          7. i just don’t think you can separate these companies conduct from the issues. And their conduct is one of the reasons people think GMOs are “scary”. Pesticides may be a necessary part of agriculture, but it’s not productive to approach that as if it must always be the way it is: always escalating, always building resistance, never looking for more ecologically sound IPM because there’s no profit, and it requires more labor.
            You’re saying we have to consider all biotech traits separately, but you also say that “the science is settled” – speaking about GMOs as if there really is no difference between one and the next, and as if our regulatory system can’t possibly allow a dangerous GMO to be marketed. There have been lawsuits over poorly controlled Rx crops. A lot of what’s going on “out there” is invisible to the typical consumer. i don’t see this site discussing the problems, only trying to counter criticism. It’s one-sided.
            If the focus was on science education instead, and teaching people the science they need to know to evaluate these things for themselves, there would be no need to try to overcome this so-called fear of GMOs. But of course, you might then need to overcome the anger.
            edit – and thank you

          8. Yes, but it gets in a LOT or river water according to USGS, and Roundup is said by many to be far more toxic than glyphosate by itself. However, there are a lot of emerging toxicologic concerns that glyphosate may have far more adverse effects than commonly thought.

        3. Ray, I certainly appreciate your concern about inadequate care in dispensing agricultural chemicals. More care is always better. What I don’t see is how this has anything to do with genetic engineering.
          I know about only one agricultural chemical that is more used on GMO crops than on conventional bred crops. Is glyphosate often dispensed by crop dusting planes?

          1. Yes, it does not really have much to do with GE in general, however it DOES have a lot to do with perception. Everytime this sort of exposure hits families…. it pushes more people toward OG agriculture and is counterproductive to educating about GE in a more productive way.Also, most of us would not tolerate living in a farmhouse adjacent to heavily sprayed cropland, we would move away to to better housing, leaving the worse housing to lower income farm workers who can’t afford to be so picky. This dynamic is then noticed by other public as another failing of society needing correction, and it also causes more people to feel more alienated from big AG and driving more people to OG thinking.

          2. I live in an area where people (usually retirees from Philadelphia or NYC) pay a premium for those houses located next to farm fields. I live in area not like the Midwest–the area I live in, rural and urban meet. Farms and ghousing developments are close–like the backyard and the crop field share a border close. You wqould think in this area, where people (on the average) are exposed at much higher rates of pesticides than either cities (where little ag takes place) or vast stretches of acres and acres of farmland (where few people live) would have higher rates and incidences of these diseases. It does not.

          3. Great! That is a good point and approach to teasing out whether or not there is any increased risk. I hope that that will continue to be better demonstrated with future research and medical clarification. One of the best approaches to monitoring for public health would be being sure that epidemiology as a science was even better funded and utilized to see more subtle patterns of disease across landscapes. Monitoring is the eyes and ears of science, and we need the science to inform policy.

          4. Good, we both agree that we need science to monitor policy. So, let’s start preaching that.

          5. GE/GMO has its own rack of potentially devastating problems left understudied, but the pesticide associated practices are NOT adequately studied before dispersal.

        4. GMO crops has led to more use of chemicals. Originally they were suppose to use less chemicals and save the farmer money. But the over reliance on chemical led to resistant weeds that led to more chemical usage.

          1. Yes, water soluble formulation ingredients, contaminants, surfactants and degradation products, are even more mobile in the environment than the lipophilics are. Glyphosate is water soluble and even shows up commonly in rainwater. Atrazine is a widely found contaminant in a very high percentage of waters in the US.

          2. Yes, and what happens as common weeds get resistant to the best chemical treatment we throw at them? we will get very tough to control weeds spreading across the landscape invading even where they did not before their toughness was enhanced by this anthropogenic selection.

  2. Lack of adequate toxicologic research for adverse effects potentials is greatly limiting GMO acceptance. Since such a high percentage of GMOs are pesticide-ready, and associated with extensive applications of pesticides (with chemical trespass common), and people are becoming much more knowledgeable about how government and industrial irresponsibility has historically harmed public health in order to increase false profit to corporations, it is inevitable that the public has begun to question more responsibly…. and increasingly buying organically. IMHO

      1. For starters, funding for scientifically independent research of off site chemical trespass events that are directly observed by adjacent landowners on frequent basis, yet almost never investigated with scientific and political integrity.

        1. Well, chemical trespass is a relatively rare event and isn’t really a GMO product safety question. It’s more about personal property. I know from personal experience, they are investigated virtually every time the damage is large enough to warrant it.

          1. I said, with independent research. If 85% of GMOs are pesticide ready, and very commonly are sprayed numerous times, are you really saying that all of those chemicals almost always stay on site as intended? Just saying that that is a big reason that an increasing number of thinking people don’t trust that the bases are well covered by your system. Many families have been over-sprayed and otherwise contaminated by spray applications and with volatilization. A lot of these people have had enough biology, chemistry, physics, and medical education to realize that much of the research is cherry-picked to support products/profits while huge numbers of people are driving through chemical fogs trying to hold their breaths long enough to make it to cleaner air. And, many people have their families directly sprayed, yet the regulatory agency response was almost nonexistent in spite of our legal system process that makes it almost impossible to document these trespasses. If corporations have ‘personhood’ yet confront others with chemical exposure and there is not adequate functional recourse from the system in reality, it ain’t right! And the corporation becomes a pest that should be pest managed.IMHO

          2. Well the only way that 85% number is even close to accurate is if you include glyphosate tolerant plants. And glyphosate doesn’t volitalize and move like a few other herbicides can, so yah. It pretty much stays on site. Throw in the fact that many other herbicides are applied to soils as pre-emergent products when there’s no nearby crops to damage and you’ve taken out another big chunk.
            And drinking through a chemical fog?? Really? Maybe you could pile on a little more melodrama? It’s makes for a compelling story, but it doesn’t make it true.
            And what do you mean by “independent research”. A chemical trespass issue doesn’t need research. You have damaged plants, you identify the type of damage (yourself if you’re capable or you contact your Ag University extension ), contact your neighbors to see if they have been spraying anything that fits that type of damage. Most often, the spraying was done by an Ag service company and they usually compensate the grower for damage if its severe enough. There’s no one doing any “research”.

          3. Glyphosate is water soluble, it even gets into the rain. If it does not volatilize, how does it get in rain water at great distances from applications? USGS has found it in waters all across the nation. ‘Cancer ally’, the lower Mississippi, gets heavily contaminated.

          4. It doesn’t get into rain water at great distances from the applications. I believe the study you are referencing is one that compared detectable pesticides in air & rain around a highly intensive agricultural area (the Mississippi Delta) in 1995 vs 2007.
            Glyphosate (and it’s degradation product)was detected and if you look at their data you’d see it was detected right near application times (April & May) and hardly any time else. This study also state that the degradation product of glyphosate was detected at the highest rate of any of the pesticides which indicates that it is breaking down quickly as it is supposed to.
            My point about volatilization was that it doesn’t relocate to affect other crops like you claimed. Certainly it may evaporate and be detectable in minute quantities, but they are not enough to concern other farmers. If they were, we’d see fields of dead crops everywhere.
            The study also noted “The most noticeable change from 1995 to 2007 was the decrease in the annual amounts of pesticides used, with the exception of glyphosate, atrazine, and a few others with minor use. The decrease in overall use generally resulted in decreased detection frequencies in air and rain, but those pesticides with the highest use generally were detected most frequently.”
            I think we’d both agree that’s a good thing… right? Odd that so few of the sites reporting on this study seemed to mention that.
            https://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/etc.2550

          5. Yes, and here is bit more info:
            A total of 154 water samples were collected during the 2002 study in nine Midwestern States. Glyphosate was detected in 36 percent of the samples, while its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) was detected in 69 percent of the samples. The highest measured concentration of glyphosate was 8.7 micrograms per liter, well below the MCL (700 micrograms per liter). The highest AMPA concentration was 3.6 micrograms per liter (there is no MCL for AMPA). Other herbicides were detected at low levels, below health standards, in most samples. Atrazine was detected at or above the 3 microgram per liter MCL in 30% of the samples. Atrazine concentrations were generally lower, however, than those found in previous USGS studies conducted in the 1990s.

          6. Also, see:
            Environ Health. 2016; 15: 19.
            Published online 2016 Feb 17. doi: 10.1186/s12940-016-0117-0
            PMCID: PMC4756530
            PMID: 26883814
            Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement
            John Peterson Myers,corresponding author Michael N. Antoniou, Bruce Blumberg, Lynn Carroll, Theo Colborn, Lorne G. Everett, Michael Hansen, Philip J. Landrigan, Bruce P. Lanphear, Robin Mesnage, Laura N. Vandenberg, Frederick S. vom Saal, Wade V. Welshons, and Charles M. Benbrookcorresponding author

          7. Huh… the highest measured concentration is nearly 100 times below the MCL? Yah.. we better sound the alarm.

          8. I’m not saying ‘sound the alarm!’, I’m saying that government regulations take one hell of a lot of time to adjust to reflect new research that may come up. And, there is strong bias politically to keep the status quo. I’m saying that we have a social responsibility to make sure that we are very aware and encourage research that is relevant to make sure that we are protective. Much of the research that should get done does NOT.

          9. I’m saying that government regulations take one hell of a lot of time to adjust to reflect new research that may come up.

            Possibly, but in the specific case of glyphosate, there hasn’t really been any “new research” that’s come up to warrant different regulations than what exist.
            Maybe there is some political bias toward status quo, but that doesn’t seem to be the case from the agricultural standpoint. There are new regulations that are dealt with every single year. And every year we need to spend time & energy educating lawmakers on what is already being done to safeguard the environment.
            We agree that we should be socially aware and encourage relevant research. But as for research that “should” get done, my experience is that when asked what should get done that isn’t already, few have a good answer.

          10. “We agree that we should be socially aware and encourage relevant research. But as for research that “should” get done, my experience is that when asked what should get done that isn’t already, few have a good answer.”
            The problem, as I see it is that it is NOT just glyphosate, or Roundup adjuvants, degradation products, etc. In the real world beyond the labs testing for MCLs and single toxicants adverse effects, in that rain and in those rat tissues (and in our tissues) it always is a mixture of co-contaminants. We are pretty good at assessing single contaminants in the labs, but not very good at assessing the risks from the mixtures found in the real world. Many contaminants work additively, or more importantly, synergistically with co-contaminants. We need far more knowledge about how our bodies are are compromised by combinations expected on site-specific and time-specific scenarios in the real world. We need far more research for toxicology, if we are going to become more capable of having the assessment tools necessary for us to do more adequate for public and environmental health. This could readily be funded if the huge ‘profits’ driven throughout the AG, pharmaceutical, and chemical industry contribute a substantially better funding. Until this is better accomplished, the externalized costs to society from toxic contaminant adverse effects from corporate irresponsibility, will continue to bias toxicologic assessment to remain fixated on only single chemicals while avoiding adequate assessment of adverse effects of mixtures as seen in the real world. False ‘profit’, taken before all of the costs are accounted for, is NOT ethical business. we should be advocating for public health and environmental health funding by those that realize mega profit… fund better toxicologic and epidemiologic research, rather than so persistently avoiding taxes for such funding.

          11. Well… it’s a great little story, but so far there’s really been no evidence to show that this “mixture of co-contaminants” theory plays out in the real world. It honestly sounds to me that you just want to keep looking until you find something that proves you right. At some point, continuing to spend limited resources on something that is less & less likely to bear fruit becomes irresponsible.

          12. Yes, but you know that it is not just me ‘believing’ this stuff, it’s a whole lot of people that have come to similar ‘belief’ and are switching to GMO/ and pesticide avoidance OG foods as much and as fast as we can, thus the rapidly increasing market share, even paying the higher OG prices. So I guess, you have just told them ‘to have it’ as well.
            Perhaps a better level of communication about these issues, in a lot more depth that clarifies the pros and cons needs to take place if there are concerns about the slide to far more OG agriculture.

          13. Results from more than 2,000 samples collected from locations distributed across the U.S. indicate that glyphosate is more mobile and occurs more widely in the environment than was previously thought. Glyphosate and AMPA were detected (reporting limits between 0.1 and 0.02 micrograms per liter) in samples collected from surface water, groundwater, rainfall, soil water, and soil, at concentrations from less than 0.1 to more than 100 micrograms per liter. Glyphosate was detected more frequently in rain (86%), ditches and drains (71%), and soil (63%); and less frequently in groundwater (3%) and large rivers (18%). AMPA was detected more frequently in rain (86%), soil (82%), and large rivers (78%); and less frequently in groundwater (8%) and wetlands or vernal pools (37%). Most observed concentrations of glyphosate were well below levels of concern for humans or wildlife, and none exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Contaminant Level of 700 micrograms per liter.

          14. Great… none of this backs up your claim that crops are at risk of damage due to glyphosate volatilizing.
            The question is not whether it is detectable. Our detection capability is advanced to the point that everything we use is detectable. The question is whether it’s detectable in amounts that are of any concern. Your sources seem to indicate that it is not.

          15. The crop exposures are not my concern here, I’m far more concerned with adverse human effects, if the current allowable limits are underestimating risks.

          16. Well, you’re the one that brought up “chemical trespass” via over spray or volatilization. That sounded to me that you were referring to farmers who have had crops damaged. When, roundup attaches to soil particles which can get suspended in winds and carried back down via rain.
            Regardless… if the highest detected amounts are still 100 times below MCL, which is sett many times below what is likely to do harm, where is there any evidence that the risks are underestimated by that much?

          17. “It is out there in significant levels. It is out there consistently,” said Paul Capel, environmental chemist and head of the agricultural chemicals team at the U.S. Geological Survey Office, part of the U.S. Department of Interior.
            Capel said more tests were needed to determine how harmful the chemical, glyphosate, might be to people and animals.

          18. Odd that his own data contradicts his claims. IN fact, the abstract from his study says: “Concentrations of glyphosate were below the levels of concern for humans or wildlife; however, pesticides are often detected in mixtures. Ecosystem effects of chronic low‐level exposures to pesticide mixtures are uncertain.” It’s hard to say what he meant by “mixtures” as, back then (pre-2007), glyphosate was not commonly used in mixtures.
            In fact, he’s done several studies on the environmental fate of glyphosate and has yet to claim any serious negative effects, especially relative to other herbicides.
            I get that a guy needs to continue to secure funding for his work, but so far, he’s not shown anything really concerning.

          19. The main problem is that it is NOT only glyphosate present in samples taken in the field, or the rain, or in our tissues. It is unrealistic to talk about ‘glyphosate’ risk assessment, and not also understand that the glyphosate found in the rain and creek water is also in combination with atrazine, methyl mercury from crematoria sources, lead from numerous sources, S and N from industry sources and cars, on and on. If we sample and analyze, we need to become better at truly understanding the resultant real world risks. Glyphosate in rainwater that someone drinks at very low levels is not the salient point, the point is the total toxicities that we are faced with. Heavily sprayed AG lands have fluctuating ambient air quality due to portions of the many AG chemical applications escaping to unintended organisms. We are some of those organisms taking in all of these chemical mixtures. That is the rub, and many diseases are exacerbated, if not caused by, many of these repeated exposures. The toxicology resultant from repeat exposures of mixtures is the rub. We need to do much better research as we head into a better future for AG production, and the society we are doing it all for. Massive profits can afford this, if not for knee-jerk biases of greed getting in the way irresponsibly.

          20. There has yet been any evidence that the “toxic cocktail” theory is accurate. It seems our bodies are able to handle very low exposures just fine. When you consider that 99.99% of the “pesticides” we encounter are naturally occurring in our foods, it makes pretty good sense that our bodies would have evolved to filter a mixture of contaminants.

          21. Man, you had better review more of the scientific literature that deals with our emerging knowledge of what you call “toxic cocktail THEORY” that you say there is No evidence for. Even a lot of high school students have an emerging knowledge and comprehension of science lit combined with logic to understand that mixtures of different kinds of toxic substances don’t just cancel each other out to a sum zero. You just might be confusing reality and ‘theory’. Physics is far more than a theory, to scientists, Chemical reactions are known by chemists to be far more reality than ‘theory’. Sure various theories are part of science, but not so much after science has determined so much realty while investigating theory. Sure, many feel climate change is just theory, but solid measurement and logical assessment of data pass this theory straight out of the realm of the definition of theory, that we use such scientific gains as real gains with which to go onward to build upon further. If everything always remains believed as just a theory, why do we bother trying to figure everything out? Now, some claim that adverse effects of ‘toxic cocktail mixtures of poisons’ remain only theory, need to hit the books again.

          22. No one said that toxic substances cancel each other out. I said that there’s no evidence that suggests that mixtures of substances that are far, far below toxic levels cause more harm than the substances at those same levels themselves. A mixture of chemicals far below toxic levels is still far below toxic levels. And yah… a high school student with an “emerging knowledge and comprehension of science lit ” understands that.
            As I said before.. your body is bombarded with compounds that would be toxic at higher doses every time you take a bite of food… any food. And you body does a remarkable job of filtering them all out.
            And of course some “theories” have merit. That’s what evidence does. When there’s evidence for your theory, get back to me.

          23. Lead at environmentally relevant, commonly seen levels in lots of organisms (and humans) inhibits many physiologic systems in ways that harm the bodies abilities to defend from co-contaminants, the cytochrome P-450 system is one of them. Compromised defense mechanisms, including membrane integrity, which lead and glyphosate can both degrade, can allow much lower levels of toxicant to have much greater effect. Testing for toxic effects levels, usually only uses organisms in good health, with defense mechanisms intact. Multiple exposure regimes, which is the real world reality, can make many very low levels of exposure of chemicals add up to pathogenic effect, yet none of the single chemicals by themselves might have exceeded the regulatory standards.

          24. It is chronic low dose ACCUMULATIVE effects that are a generally unrecognized danger, that is widespread across the landscape and populations. It is mixtures of toxic substances, built up at low doses accumulatively, that pose far more risk. These exposures are NOT studied much because funding for them is seldom available. Our instrumentation and overall technical abilities are capable of beginning to pointedly investigate the involvement of this accumulative risk in disease pathogenicity, but funding is stymied by the politic of ‘profit’ and greed over community, education, healthy growth into a more sane future, and health of our children and their children. How could we possibly spend our money in a better way? The environmental protection agencies, staffed with the best intentioned people that left college intent on doing the job that the agencies were supposedly put in place to cover for society, are prevented from doing due diligence on the pointed investigation with scientific integrity of toxic contaminant toxicology, because industry greed threatens politicians with loss of vital funding to keep them in office. Campaign finance reform is the only hope out of this nasty paradigm preventing the full scientific method from being the driving force for public health equity across the population, until then we will continue sliding down the slippery slope of greed and competition for massive wealth inherent in the 1% ruling class. All the while, our children will increasingly suffer ill health. We are all on the same team, but a lot of us do not comprehend this, and suffer from behavioral effects that prolong the struggle. IMHO

          25. Yes, yes…. of course. Blah, blah, blah.
            You realize you’ve already replied to all of these posts….right?

          26. Most of that info comes from personal experience in the high risk geographic, mountainous, timber production areas of the left coast. The mountains and valley topography exacerbates the air stratification problems, such that heavy helicopter spray applications have much more frequent off site drift. People living in these valleys are subject to frequent exposures, and local agencies are politically reluctant to investigate due to fear of timber industry power to control scarce local jobs. Applications that were attempted to pay adequate heed to optimal conditions for containment, still result in off site drift as cooler air sinks into the valley as warm air rises upslope. People frequently must go to sleep breathing volatilized chemicals evaporating off of the sprayed vegetation upslope. Data on such exposures is a joke, because there are no agencies funding such data gathering, because the government does not want to know that these events are frequent, and government does not want to anger legislators that depend on election funding from industry lobbies. It sucks, for a lot of people. And AG areas are not immune from similar chemical trespass issues, but may affect far more people but less frequently.

          27. Yes, pesticide drift in these areas has sometimes been a problem, but that’s not really a GMO issue. I remember a particular case of paraquat drift, for example….

          28. You may find some sucess finding data in Environmental Assessments under NEPA. Agencies that use pesticides have to show that they are minimizing unintended impacts and sometimes have to collect data to demonstrate that their efforts are working.

          29. Exactly the industrial and government response commonly given to people who report to authorities that they have been assaulted by off site chemical trespass. Government will NOT adequately investigate because of well moneyed political influence opposing adequate investigation. This kind of paradigm causes fear and doubt about industry ‘science’ adequacy… and pushes people toward OG as well.

          30. You might recall:
            Acute Health Effects of Community Exposure to Cotton Defoliants
            Arch Environ Health 44(6):355-60. Dec. 1989. 
            Risk factors for systemic illnesses following agricultural exposures to restricted organophosphates in California, 1984-1988. Am J Ind Med, Jun 1997.
            Community Exposure to a Paraquat Drift. Arch Environ Health 48(1):47-52. Feb. 1993.
            -And there are others….

          31. No, it is not ‘relatively rare’, it is common, and rarely is it deemed that exposed people are ‘damaged enough’ by the event even though laws against off site chemical drift have obviously been violated. There is no money for people to use to timely document contamination events, let alone afford lawyers. Government agencies are far too slow to adequately document, unintentionally or intentionally.

          32. Umm.. no. I’ve been in agriculture more than 2 decades and i can tell you it’s pretty darn rare. Few herbicides are prone to the drift you describe. Dicamba has been in the news recently for that, but it’s one of the few. And those situations rarely need a lawyer. Most often the farmers work it out between themselves.
            You have a very negative viper of what actually takes place out in farm country. Why is that?

          33. I’d have to disagree. I see way to much overspray. I’ve even seen roundup go 1300ft into the neighbors. Commercial operators are on a deadline and push the envelope to much just so they can get their acres covered. I see them running their cleanout on the roads when they leave the field. Any type of product that had dicamba or 2-4D did a lot of damage this year with the hot humid weather we had. You mention that farmers just work it out. I’d say that was done back in the day before No-till. But today the coop passes the claim to their insurance company. Then you get the letter from their lawyer asking you to prove you had damage. And you know who has bigger pockets. Now there is an agency in AR that is measuring wind loading. That is the amount of pesticide in the air. You and Joe pretend that there is no such thing as drift. I could fill an album with all the pics of drift I saw this year. And its only going to get worse with the use of more Dicamba and 2-4D genetic crops. What would we do without GMO’s

          34. Well then, I can assure you things are quite a bit different in Indiana than in AR. If an applicator knows he’s spraying roundup around roundup crops, yah… they can get a little more hurried because there’s no risk. But dicamba & 2-4D are different.
            No one has said there’s no such thing as drift. I said it’s not real common…at least the kind that would kill a neighboring crop. That’s, by far, the exception. Not the rule. And drift isn’t the issue with dicamba. It’s volotalization. It, literally, gets up & moves. My crop consulting years showed me those cases were isolated and generally didn’t appreciably impact the crop yield. At least on beans. I can’t say I’m very experienced with cotton or other crops they might grow in Arkansas.
            So how was this handled back before GM crops? Dicamba & 2-4D were very common corn herbicides before the advent of RR. It wasn’t common, but we would see cases where dicamba volotalized & resettled on a neighboring bean field causing a spot of damage. Generally, the beans grew out of it. But if they didn’t, we handled that between farmers.

          35. “Barry’s” choice of screen name and avatar picture aren’t just a coincidence, huh?

          36. Well then, why not more realistically and scientifically document that these chemical actually do stay only on the intended property, and do not invade the property of others?

          37. Here we go again…
            “No, it is not ‘relatively rare’, it is common, and rarely is it deemed
            that exposed people are ‘damaged enough’ by the event even though laws against off site chemical drift have obviously been violated.”
            More claims without evidence.

      2. And, for a second suggestion… to actually do due diligence LongTerm studies, with scientific integrity, BEFORE dispersal of new tech chemicals out into the lab of our bodies.

        1. For a third suggestion how about you learn what is already done before asking for something to be done.

    1. Biotech crops are the most tested food that exist today. Toxicity and allergenicity are studied extensively. Tests are conducted by the company hoping to commercialize the product, then the results are reviewed by the relevant safety authorities (in the US that’s FDA for food and EPA for pesticides including any pesticidal biotech traits), then there are many additional studies of safety by unrelated academics.

      1. Yes, that is acknowledged as a beginning of adequacy. The funding political biases inherent in the current paradigm very often do not do due diligence for the scientific integrity. What does NOT get funded, that is essential for scientific integrity IS the issue. Industry provides revolving door participation as heads of regulatory agencies become industry heads, and industry heads rotate in to head the very agencies that we claim are responsible for environmental and public health protection… the fox guards the hen house. This is a paradigm rife with conflicts of interest that assure that the ‘science’ receives biased funding. That is just the way the set up currently exists, but that is what contributes to many forms of misinformation and outright shortfalls in public confidence leading to pesticide resistant GMO bad PR and default to organic product trust in comparison. GE itself would have a much better reception for some degree of acceptance, if the pesticide issues had not been so mishandled by industry/government/ academia in the past. Trust has to be acquired again, and it is not going to be easy to do if the current system retains so many conflicts of interest. IMHO

        1. I hear you, but you seem to be making the mistake that I mention in this article “Larger concerns about industrialization and consolidation have been projected onto biotechnology, such that all ills of agriculture are blamed on GMOs.” Pesticides have their own issues, and while herbicide tolerant crops are used with hebicides, the pesticide regulatory system is not a GMO issue.

          1. But public policy based on perceived issued vs real research data does not seem to be a good idea to me.

          2. Ray, why is it perceived as such? As I look over the spectrum of your comments, you are trying to explain YOUR OWN reasons for distrust of GMO agriculture. But I doubt that you really believe that a significant portion of the public skepticism comes from concerns like yours. I think it comes from a carefully designed propaganda campaign. That’s why we see all these images of tomatoes with syringes, or with fishy fins. That’s why people look for the GMO-Project-Verifed label on olive oil. That’s why we read about glyphosate contamination in breast milk instead of motor oil.

          3. There are always significant numbers of people within any one side of debate that are ‘out on the fringes’ of the finer points of the issues, people that are not as discerning as what would be due care in thinking, Both sides of most of the main issues discussed in this forum have examples of ‘fringe’, likely I am one of them. If you want to ‘cherry-pick’examples of individuals, it is always like shooting fish in a barrel, and hardly worthy as a intellectual tactic. Sticking to the more salient points, and debating constructively should be the primary goal. Not just ‘speaking only to the choir’ continually, and being willing to search your soul to try to understand where each other make good points, is essential for real communication IMHO.

    2. Many new genetically engineered crops are being readied for marketing, which have nothing to do with your “chemical trespass” issues. I hope your focus on this issue does not preclude your specific consideration of the significance of other modifications, such as non-browning apples and potatoes, faster-growing salmon, drought and salt-tolerant crops, disease-resistant bananas, oranges, and papayas, etc.

      1. I agree that GE holds great potential for our food future, and that much current research is pointing the way forward. My gripe is that many areas of toxicologic risk is likely to be under-studied prior to pushing the profit motive. Most GMO work in the future will probably be better than what is currently advocate, but those of us that don’t see many areas of concern covered adequately now, are likely to opt for organic non-GMO often, until we see additional research adequacy.

        1. “My gripe is that many areas of toxicologic risk is likely to be under-studied prior to pushing the profit motive.”
          And there’s another evidence-free claim.

          1. Caitlin Dewey, “This Miracle Weed Killer Was Supposed to Save Farms. Instead, It’s Devastating Them,” The Washington Post, August 29, 2017. ??? What’s to this?

        2. Well, Ray, if you’re holding up “organic” as a gold standard you have confirmed your ignorance around pesticide use and abuse in agriculture! USDA surveyed pesticide residues on organic produce and found nearly half (43%) of organic produce in supermarkets carry residues of as many as 51 different disallowed pesticides. Fully 4% of organic produce carries illegal levels of pesticide residue!
          https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Pesticide%20Residue%20Testing_Org%20Produce_2010-11PilotStudy.pdf

          1. I certainly do not ‘hold OG up as a gold standard’, but as a precautionary measure that could certainly prove to have been prudent for many people who perceive that industrial AG
            is often overly strident in claiming that its ‘science’ is superior to any questioning of adequacy. GE is likely to produce fewer incidents of adverse practices in the path toward a better food future than current status and trends in conventional pesticide dependent practices, and possibly even more so than in current OG practices, but that is not a given conclusion. Any stroll through a grocery store, or hardware store, reading labels, can scare anybody that has tried to stay abreast of current and emerging nutritional and toxicological medical literature. Blanket statements of adamant declaration of inherent safety can seem a bit like outright propaganda after reading thousands of papers. The literature is so vast, and the vista of research directions so compelling to follow, that adamant statements often become perceived as too pedantic and misleading.

          2. Okay, I’m getting older very fast, so probably won’t be bothering you much with all my ‘fake science stuff’ a whole lot more. But something you might not know that I could tell you about, would be that you too are getting older fast and probably best to take better care of your body and mind as well. And, you know… practice being a little kinder all the time is helpful in life… just a hint from an old fart. Good luck to you on that front.

          3. Do you have any ideas for how to overcome the fear that many people have, or are you simply stating that fear is a major motivator?

          4. The toxic metal lead from lost fishing sinkers poisons young salmon and contaminates the tackle boxes that legislators use while teaching their grandkids how to fish, thereby contaminating their hands, their sandwiches, apples, and fish. No funding for any monitoring of all of this pollution is allowed because the regulators of the regulators (the legislators) do not want to upset the industry lobbies that feed them their election money. The salmon restoration can never be ‘best available science-based’ until the agencies are allowed to actually do due diligence science. The politic tells agencies that they must stick their heads in the sand so that they will never report water quality sampling, analysis, and assessment that might produce data that could be threatening to the industry lobbies that pay the politicians. Accurate, pointedly investigative, monitoring is the eyes and ears of science that we depend on for guiding our public health and environmental health for salmon recovery, only non-threatening monitoring is allowed…. and science is subverted. Monitoring is exactly what is needed to save money, by finding our water quality mistakes in time to make corrective actions to fix our mistakes, so we don’t have to continue to pay for those mistakes over and over off into the future. Water quality monitoring for toxic contaminant pollutants saves far more money than it costs, don’t let anyone tell you that monitoring is too costly. Short term thinking kills us, and the children of our great grandchildren that we borrow this world from.
            When significant numbers of people start to really understand that our chemical regulatory governmental apparatus can’t even bring itself to correct public health mistakes as egregious as this, how can thoughtful people have confidence that the environmental quality review and regulatory system in this nation is truly working for the people exposed rather than for providing ‘profit’ (false profit) for corporations? The whole public health lead contamination assault on due diligence, scares people, because when they understand this issue, it is not much of a stretch for them to look at the pesticide regulatory apparatus and start to see analogous methodological mistakes to the mistakes made in the lead paradigm. Profit-taking takes precedent over due diligence in scientific integrity far too often… it scares people who honestly try to do what is right for their family and friends. These people do not see much empathy built into the current paradigm. It is easy to see why such people shy away from conventional AG reliance on pesticides, they fear (often rightly so) that not as much money is going into product unsupportive research as is done for product supportive research, thereby biasing the science in an illogical way for public health, and the health of friends and family. Blanket statements to the contrary, by industry, just often do not ‘ring true’. The ideal of establishment of the desired ‘checks and balances’ by forming ‘environmental protection agencies’ for the assurance of ‘best available science’ was initiated as a responses to this intellectual need for balancing the scientific integrity over the ‘profit motive’.
            Sure, people are flocking to OG, that is not a surprise. We can be better than this, the current paradigm has dismantled regulatory checks and balances, claiming that the ‘profit motive’ rules, science and common sense has been harmed to the point of thinking people not being able to trust corporate science as being other than propaganda far too often. We can, and must, be better than this into the future. IMHO (and empathy does have all the gravest importance in this).

          5. Strange. I asked a simple question; you responded with a diatribe about something else.
            Disqus can be useful for dialog, but if you want to catalog your opinions, start a blog. They’re free. IM(not so)HO.

          6. Always strive for the truth, what else can we do? Self examine. Act. Take responsibility. Inform. Persist. Learn rapidly. All of us! Teamwork toward survival.

          7. Sure, do the science with INTEGRITY, practice it with empathy, and see the process as the teamwork that it essentially IS as logical to progressing as best we can toward the common essential goal of the survival and benefit of our progeny into the future. To do less, is continuing to be more of the problem than the solution.

          8. If everybody that had a tackle box, were to simply go to the nearest hardware store, buy a cheap ‘lead test swab, test their tackle box for dangerous lead levels, and act accordingly, we would begin to see just how personal this issue is…. and how we all have not only poisoned ourselves, but also any children that we took out to teach them how to fish. The science of this IS about as rock solid as any science has ever been. All it takes is a little initiative and curiosity on the part of a person that fishes to check this out, yet almost nobody does…… pesticide issues need similar oversight.

          9. You may want to ask, how does a chemical get into crops that arn’t sprayed with chemicals? I think people mis the point when they see chemical residue in a crop that didn’t use the chemical.

          10. That’s the point, exactly — prohibited inputs turn up in nearly half of “organic” produce. USDA shrugs most of it off as conventional produce mislabeled as “certified organic”, an all too common practice, apparently, that amounts to fraudulent labeling. No enforcement by USDA.
            The remainder of residues in organic food, all too high to merely be “drift” across required buffer strips from neighboring conventional producers, clearly indicates some “organic” producers are sneaking in a few pesticide applications when no one is watching. They’re untraineed and careless with their clandestine spraying, too, since USDA finds that fully 4% of organic produce contains illegally high residues of prohibited synthetic pesticides on organic produce in supermarkets! Consider that conventional produce routinely falls below 1% for illegally high residues and you suddenly realize that a grocery shopper is fully 4 times more likely to purchase organic food with illegally high pesticide residues than they are with good, honest conventional foods!
            Here’s the official USDA report…
            https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Pesticide%20Residue%20Testing_Org%20Produce_2010-11PilotStudy.pdf
            It is almost criminal how USDA’s language throughout the report downplays this issue. Also noteworthy USDA does not, apparently, enforce its organic regs, and they have been meticulously careful never to repeat this damning “pilot survey” of pesticide residues in organic food. USDA simply whitewashed it and dropped it!! Fact is, Canada routinely surveys pesticides in organic produce and finds essentially the same rate of cheating and fraud. Seems it goes on everywhere “certified organic” snake oil is peddled.

          11. The problem is that if you grow a crop with out chemicals there will be traces of chemicals in that crop. The organic standards allow a low percentage of residue due to the fact that 0% contamination is almost impossible. So the bigger question is. How did we pollute the environment so much that you get residue, from the air, water, rain, soil or wind? I had a professor in college that held up a glass of atrizine and said it was so safe you could drink it. So we spent the next 20 yrs contaminating eveything with it. Even the mammals in Antartica test positive for it. Now all of a sudden we decide its not safe and we got to quit using it. I’m sure that same prof was holding up a glass of Glyphosate telling his students the same thing. But at least he kept the college donors happy. I see the bigger issue in Organic with residue coming in illegally from Mexico, Chile, Ukraine, china, etc. Not to say there isn’t some “sneaky” farmer abusing the system. I’ve seen plenty commercial sprayers do “sneaky” off label spraying too.

          12. Oh, get with the times BS. Inputs are used more and more responsibly, and with greater and greater accountability in modern conventional agriculture. Our background residue footprint is virtually nonexistent and biologically insignificant for most of our farm inputs these days. Routinely when the arithmetic is done we learn that a person would have to eat literally tons of good wholesome conventional food daily to be exposed to any consequential level of pesticide — even if consumers ignored standard advice to wash produce before eating. Strangely for “organic” foods — foods that are deceptively hyped as being “clean” and “healthy” — in “organic” produce prohibited pesticide residues are commonplace, nearly half of all organic produce testing positive…but which half? No warning labels. Only fraudulent “certified organic” labels with a false promise of purity shamelessly commanding 2X and 3X the price of ordinary wholesome food.
            You rant on and on and on, BS, with accusations and vague non-specific symptoms of spray “drift” being commonplace, even universal. We’re not seeing it around here. Is it occurring mainly your neighbor’s farms? Is that where you’re pulling your testimonials from? Well, maybe you’re one of those irresponsible applicators yourself, BS? Maybe not even trained and licensed? Maybe you’re one of those weekend warriors who go to Walmart or your local garden center and purchase Roundup and other chemicals over the counter, take ’em home and immediately abuse them? Or are you one of those “organic” growers whose produce magically, inexplicably turns up with residues of prohibited pesticides in the daytime after some creative night time cropping exercises?
            “Organic” produce, fully 4% of which routinely turns up with illegally high residues of prohibited pesticides…and you’re gonna use, as your lame excuse, nearly undetectable background traces of common chemicals to explain away the more than 50 prohibited pesticides on all that organic food? Seriously BS? That’s your story? Nope, not buying it, BS. You’re gonna hafta do a lot better than that, chum. A lot better, BS.

          13. Thats a typical response from the round table at the coffee shop. They all know the answers and tell you of all the studies that have proven every pesticide safe. It reminds me of the Cigarette industry when they testified in front of congress that their product didn’t cause cancer. And the users that were addicted rallied them on. I’ve set in on the pro chemical meetings and the organic meetings to see both sides of the argument. I’d have to say the round table farmers keep their blinders tight and stay in their seats.

          14. Meanwhile, OG is very rapidly increasing in % of sales! If it is all anti GMO/pesticide propaganda, conventional AG must be doing a lot wrong to encourage more and more people to look for alternatives. If conventional AG industry has the data that very logically does establish adequacy of safety, then it should be easy to convince far more people. The problem I see, is that conventional research receives lots of money for product sales-supportive research, but does not swell support research that is finding product sales unsupportive research…. so, long term in depth toxicity and environmental sampling, analysis, and cellular level considerations are NOT funded adequately. That is why there are significant nagging logical questions avoided by industry, and results in precautionary avoidance of crops that do have significant residues. Of course, OG is going to be chosen increasingly. Put up the funding to get scientific integrity in potentially product-unsupportive research as well as in product- supportive research. It is NOT science unless these bases get better covered.

          15. “…product-unsupportive research…”?
            Uh, don’t look now but the very act of completing and publishing science, particularly what you lament as “product-supportive science”, is an open invitation for independent researchers to attempt replication of the reported phenomenon to either support or refute the original finding. Instead of that, you carping faux-science whiners choose simply to disbelieve or allege conspiracy or move the goal posts or demand studies that are logically or ethically impossible to deliver…like your demand that science prove a negative, in this instance.
            I am so, so very sorry that science educators have failed you so completely that you now routinely operate bereft of any coherent concept of what science is or how it works. I blame teachers, but in your case perhaps you didn’t represent much in the way of raw material for them to work with?

          16. It is ethically incumbent on the Producers of a product that society is then exposed to, to do everything that they can to clarify the safety of their product. A vast experiment, not contained in a lab, upon all of society demands the human right of this ethical requirement in a sane society. No we do not currently have a very sane society, but irresponsibility on this level is criminal and crime against the future of our great great grandchildren. Now, you can never reach perfect safety with anything, but we can damn sure call out the deficiencies in taking loads of false ‘profit’ before covering the bases far more comprehensively than currently done in most AG industrial research that is product-supportive rather than looking for scientific truth of all of the pros and cons before claiming real profit earned. Business is ultimately run on the ethic of accounting reality, anything less is not socially responsible accounting.

          17. Well then, Ray, sounds like organically grown stuff has a boatload of safety proving to do!
            You do know there have been no studies confirming the safety of organic food, none! And, as it turns out, organic food is recently discovered to have a higher recall rate for food safety (especially bacterial contamination) than good wholesome conventional foods. Not surprising since organic food typically is grown in excrement by eccentric people who have no concept of hygiene or food safety…
            So, Ray, how ’bout you immediately get those safety studies done on all that organic food and get back to us with your results, OK?

          18. Good! So then, why are you buying and consuming organic food that’s not been rigorously safety tested? Why have you permitted organic food to be foisted upon the public without strident safety testing completed beforehand? Why are you content with people getting sick from organic food and why are organic foods being recalled for safety? By your own standards, Ray, what the organic food industry has done by flooding the market with untested foods is an abomination. When will your safety testing of organic foods be completed, Ray?

          19. Glyphosate is water soluble, as such it has significant potential to move off site relatively easily. It has also been found to persist often in water, including rainwater. Overspray is common, onto adjacent fields, roads, cars, and unintended crops. Irrigation water taken from a waterway with escaped chemical can add it to other crops. How could you possibly not consider these modes of off site movement associated with current AG practices, as well as with a possibility of intentional application to an OG crop?

          20. Well, may we ALL come to glimpse a bit more reality with all of this! I guess I’d agree with you on that point., Let’s look more, test more, do the science with integrity, and gain better clarity from it.

        3. Ray, I frankly don’t understand your concern for toxicologic risk of the products currently being brought to market. What toxicologic risks could be expected for a silenced gene that results in less production of a browning enzyme? What risk is expected from a transfer of genes and their resulting hormones from one species of fish into another? In my opinion, the GMO work of the present, not the future, is perfectly adequate to eliminate safety concerns. Certainly such products have fewer expected chemical changes than products developed through radiation and chemical-induced mutation, which can legally be labeled organic.

          1. I largely agree. I do however have concerns that there has not been enough in depth look into such things as say: the belief currently that glyphosate can’t adversely affect human health because its main effect is on the shikamate pathway that human physiology does not have. Time after time this is stated, and sounds so logical… and probably is largely true, but there are other possibilities of need for better clarification of other more subtle physiologic function. Just the adamant statement that humans lack the shikamate pathway is erroneous, and can cause doubt about the statement and is misleading. Human cells themselves may not utilize the shikamate pathway, however millions of cells within our bodies DO have that pathway. Just recognizing that this industry statement if technically apparently wrong, is a liability for the argument that glyphosate could not have human adverse effects like those seen in plants, is off-putting to many outside observers. This puts doubt into the minds of many people, that it might just possibly be over-reaching by industry to state old information in a possibly misleading light. Emerging research into gut micro biome/brain axis complexity, has caused a lot of medical researchers to want to look much more closely at just what really takes place in the gut that can affect overall health. Research is rapidly expanding on this subject and has lots of potential significance. Maybe the reality will prove out with findings of rather insignificant possible adverse effect from the rather small amounts of glyphosate residues commonly ingested, but that assurance has not been definitively researched yet as far as my reading has covered. But, it the preponderance of frequent adamant assurances from industry of safety, yet many relevant questions about this point still need clarification… that it is unwise to state such conclusions in such adamant terms before reviewing current literature more fully, and having a better appreciation of emerging directions in toxicology.IMHO

          2. Work done back in academic labs back in the 1980s indicated that a higher concentration of glyphosate was needed to inhibit the shikimate pathway in bacteria compared to plant pathways. That work also showed that when bacteria were given supplementation with aromatic amino acids, they happily abandoned using the shikimate enzyme system in favour of taking in the amino acids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC213615/
            More recent work, again in academia in Denmark, has established that gut bacteria are fast on their little metabolic feet and don’t let an inhibitor like glyphosate ruin their day. They thrive in a nice soup of amino acids provided from our digestion whether glyphosate is present or not. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749117328099
            The Credible Hulk has a nice article summarizing the effect of glyphosate on the gut microbiome here: http://www.crediblehulk.org/index.php/2017/12/10/glyphosate-and-the-gut-microbiome-another-bad-argument-annihilated/

          3. Verna, I just reviewed some of the current research on biofilm characteristics in relationship to quorum sensing bacteria. This field is really taking off, it has many implications for antibiotic resistance, and for potential dental caries and gum disease treatment.

          4. There’s a plausible hypothetical concern, but I haven’t come across any evidence to suggest that typical human exposures to glyphosate would have a significant effect on gut bacteria—have you?
            You mention the lack of “definitive” research regarding safety. I’m not even sure what this means. How would you propose conducting such research—or are you just making a version of the “God in the gaps” argument that creationists use?

          5. On my list (wish list) of subjects to check up on in current research, is gut membrane barrier mechanisms for damage. I have not gotten far on that subject, but have been looking at research involved in blood brain barrier damage research, especially by lead, my main knowledge area. A major critique of the toxic risk from glyphosate has been leveled at damage to tight junctions, or regulation by gaps and junction mechanisms ‘leaky gut’. Why isn’t there a whole lot of focused research funding looking very pointedly at this contentious issue? Has it been definitively disproven as an issue, and if so why does this technical information not get trotted out to adequately clarify the controversy? The current research knowledge must be insufficient for so many other people to be so sure that this issue still needs to be cleared up. This could be a huge issue to be sure that we have all the best information on, because it could be devastating to many pathways if found to be happening frequently associated with any pesticide or GMO intake.

          6. What could possibly go wrong??? Perhaps long term studies should become far more importantly considered as a logical extension of ‘current’ investigation for ‘safety’. Complexities are vast in physiologic systems, and we know only a very small proportion of the complexity. How can we so flippantly dismiss long term investigations? We should clambering all over such investigation, yet we are not, why not?

          7. Because corporations do not want to have long term studies done (beyond three months), because that could reveal the likelihood of accumulative low dose adverse effects, and that would NOT be product-supportive. The, agencies are prohibited from long term assessments because the regulators of the agencies, the legislators, fear loss of election funding from the industry lobbies, if the environmental ‘protection’ agencies were to try to do due diligence in their jobs protecting from toxics.

          8. Talk about your understanding of RNA, epigenetics, and protein mis-folding… or unintended transfer of RNA with risk of incorporation into physiologic pathways. I don’t know all of this stuff, but you probably should… so should I.

          9. Was any other damage incurred during the silencing of only one gene? Were any RNA or protein damages unintended changes? If so, what might be outcomes down the metabolic chains? Was there any epigenetic effect changes in other gene expression? How well were these questions covered? Or, are they not important to even look at?

          10. I don’t have specific answers to any of your good questions, except wonderment at your attitude that some possible unknown changes are likely to have adverse consequences. In my opinion, this is inherently unlikely, since genetic recombinations are continually occurring, and the plants and animals we eat are not suddenly becoming toxic. My point is, the more specific the genetic change that is being introduced into a genome, the LESS likely that some adverse consequence will occur.

    3. “Lack of adequate toxicologic research for adverse effects…”
      Are you sure you know how toxicology is done for other things we are exposed to?
      Please give us a brief outline of the kind of toxicological study that would be necessary for you to be confident about the safety of genetically engineered foods or ingredients. Don’t forget to include your definition of GMO, and a description of the kinds of negative controls you would use (foods that are presumably “safe”).
      Or are you really admitting you haven’t done your homework to learn what research HAS already been done?
      BTW I have never seen anyone use “IMHO” who is humble about their opinion. We need a new acronym, IMHO.

      1. “Are you sure you know how toxicology is done for other things we are exposed to?”
        No, I’m not sure. I’m not sure because science in labs, trying to describe the reality in our surroundings, necessarily has to be oversimplified in order to get ‘good data’. We have to tease apart the chemical influences that we encounter all the time. It is toxicologically only part of the complicated story, the results we get, only hint at an accuracy that we need for the reality. For instance, thousands of chemicals have been analyzed for toxicity in many various ways, science is pretty good at doing a lot of that assessment in the lab. But, science is not nearly so good at determining the potential adverse effects of mixtures of chemicals. Sure we can get pretty good data sheets on the safety of single chemicals, but we can have a devil of a time getting as much confidence in relative safety of mixtures of chemicals reacting with our complex surroundings. Applications of chemicals are not as controlled as what is done in labs. Tank-mixes have often been done for real world expedience in the field, where we know far less about the complexities of mixtures. We know far less about the additive or synergistic effects of the mixtures in the tank, let alone as that spray hits the complexity of the environment. Many AG lands were contaminated by applications of hundreds of chemicals from industrial wastes scraped from smokestacks at plants all over the nation, When regulations dictated that they should have been disposed of properly, it cost industry a great deal to do so. Industry realized that if they could use a loophole to reclassify such waste as a much more less scrutinized ‘soil amendment’ such waste could be spread out on thousands of acres of AG land without being adequately assessed for toxic dangers. Instead of having to PAY a great deal of money to meet requirements of disposal, they now could get rid of it all for far less hit on their ‘bottom line’. This is another of the ‘complexities’ encountered out in the real world AG land, that the tank-mixtures of applications fall onto. We have almost NO way of adequately assessing toxicologic realities on complex lands in the real world, yet we speak with such confidence based far too often on our lab work of effects of single chemicals or very simple combinations. What happens when chelators (such as glyphosate, or many others) are in these tank mixes? Can toxic metals be greatly increased in uptake in plants? In humans? All I’m saying is that there is a very oversimplification done in labs, essential for our understanding to evolve, but that that is NOT the real world, and that our knowledge is NOT as great as the perception we hold of that knowledge. Our confidence is based on important, but very partial information, and we should always remember that in any assessment of adequacy of how we perceive the real world. We should,at least,be a bit more humbled by just what we do not yet know, and how our advice could sometimes be wrong in the real world. We can’t stop giving advice, but we need deep respect for our unintended ability to mislead at times.

        1. Yes, humility in the face of uncertainty is a good idea.
          Can you give a specific example of a common agricultural tank mix, so that we can explore the potential risks (hopefully with some informed input from some real farmers)?
          Yes, toxicology is typically done with single compounds. This has its limitations, but it helps us make prudent choices about maximum levels of exposure. I suspect that the most probable cause of additivity or synergy would be that two substances share the same detoxification enzymes in humans, and that these enzymes could become saturated (as has been seen for drug-drug and food-drug interactions, for example). Fortunately, such metabolic pathways are studied as part of the safety assessment of many pesticides. Personally, I think it’s unlikely that, say, a particular cytochrome P450 enzyme could be saturated by traces of a pesticide. Don’t forget, animals have had to deal with a host of environmental toxins for millions of years.
          I accept your point that there is lots we don’t know, and that compounds may interact in unexpected ways. Who knows if eating a guava interacts unexpectedly with a cranberry (fruits that would not normally coexist)?
          So what are the possible remedies? Are you suggesting that we reduce the diversity of substances we are exposed to or consume because we can’t be sure about possible synergies? Personally, I think that maintaining a diversity of exposures will limit the levels of any particular substance. (High levels of a single substance may be of more concern than lower levels of unrelated substances). This is one reason why cocktails of chemotherapeutic agents are sometimes used, rather than a massive dose of a single drug.
          You mention the chelating activity of glyphosate as a possible mechanism for uptake of harmful levels of heavy metals in crops. I suspect that this idea has already been tested, but others may be better equipped to comment. However, I have very little concern about dietary glyphosate, since the chelating activity of substances in our food, such as citric acid, is huge by comparison.
          Incidentally, the toxicity of copper to earthworms was reduced in the presence of glyphosate:
          https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1887/37482c358d9015806fb2eb4e313decfeda74.pdf

          1. “Don’t forget, animals have had to deal with a host of environmental toxins for millions of years.”
            Well, that is not surprising since we have obviously had many plant-protective chemicals, naturally in our foods for millions of years, our bodies are expert at evolving to co-exist and even thrive given the long time spans of eons of exposure to most natural pesticides. The problem is in the scale of time for our bodies to adapt to new forms of synthetic pesticides that are more of a new new exposure in nature, and the additive and synergistic potentiating of mixtures new to our biology. That, is not surprising at all. It is the scale of time to adapt or fail to adequately adapt that contains the most risk. Our bodies are magnificent adaptors, but only if given reasonable time scales to do it all in. The risk is largely in the timescale. We have produced about 85K mostly new chemicals in the industrial age.

          2. Have you examined what fraction of “modern” pesticides are metabolized by the existing detoxification systems in animals? To steal from Freud, sometimes a hydroxyl group is just a hydroxyl group.

          3. Not a great deal, but I do know that modern bones have 100 to 1000 times the lead in them than prehistoric bones had, and that lead has many adverse effects on many physiologic pathways such as the P450 system you mentioned. That system is very important in detoxification of many other pollutants, so if it is inhibited it can add more toxic effects. Lead, at pretty low doses, also inhibits ALAD which results in increased ALA that is neurotoxic. This also causes blood oxygen carrying ability to be reduced, which can complicate all sorts of medical conditions. What fraction of ‘modern’ pesticides that are metabolized by detoxification systems, is an important question to ask. Do you know? I know that some affect the NMDA receptor system, as does lead, causing increased glutamate residence time at the synaptic cleft, overstimulating neurons to the point of exhaustion and even neuron death.If several neurotoxicants at low dose hit the same critical pathways, it is pretty easy to see additive effects, and more health decline than in minimally exposed pathways from each toxicant alone.

          4. “So what are the possible remedies? Are you suggesting that we reduce the diversity of substances we are exposed to or consume because we can’t be sure about possible synergies? ”
            No, I’m suggesting that we not state so adamantly, our assurances of adequacy of safety, as if there were no longer any question of inadequacy. We could change our attitude in communication, so that thinking people would not so easily become put off by our statements that they disbelieve much of what we say too flippantly.

          5. “Can you give a specific example of a common agricultural tank mix, so that we can explore the potential risks.?”
            Actually, I’m much more concerned with ‘uncommon’ tank mixes. Locally, after spray operations, litter at the helicopter site included several labels and precautionary lit discarded by crew. The labels cautioned that such mixtures were NOT assessed for possible adverse effects. After that, I strongly wondered how common such application methodologies in the real world are not adequately following what research precautions are stated on the products. Often, I suspect that AG practices suffer from such disregard of supposed ‘best management practices’ for methodologies to gain ‘profit’ over what the research indicates.

          6. Not just the uptake of metals and minerals in crops, but the sequestering and transport of bound up minerals, many being essential for plants and humans, to become less bioavailable to crops. Micronutrient decline in cropped soils is pretty well established across the AG landscape, often with much less diverse soil amendment… for a net loss. Our foods become less nutritious for providing diverse micronutrients that make up the central units of formation of proteins and enzymes needed for maintaining health. (e.g. zinc finger protein misfiling due to substitution of other metals for the zinc, making the protein unable to do its job even while the body thought it had made the necessary protein).Many essential proteins become non functional and unable to do the jobs they normally do with the proper micronutrients present from the foods.

          7. Sure, the chelation of the copper by the glyphosate also prevented the copper from likely incorporation in the plants as an essential nutrient. Does similar sequestration of free nutrients deprive the plants of many other micronutrients, so that the resultant declining soil fertility and effective function to grow the best food quality is slowly dragging down the value to our physiology when we eat such crops? How is chelation helping, and hurting the quality inherent in the food products? Dietary deficiencies are often seen to limit health quality and increase pathogenicity in public health. As micronutrients become less diverse, and toxic contaminants increase in relative content, how do the disease risks, or benefits, vary? How does crop land soil quality decline harm food quality in the real world? Are we overlooking any important aspects of reduced micronutrients in soil? Enzymes need some micronutrients in order to fold properly to be functional, if they are not available health declines.

        1. Because I know more about the pesticide issues, and am just beginning to know a bit about the GE/GMO realm. So far, I’m getting mightily concerned about not readily seeing research that seems adequate, but I’m just starting, so am reserving the concern till I confirm more about the GE/GMO issues.

  3. Does it matter? Sure–just like misplaced vaccine fears. There are consequences here too, but unlike vaccines these are broader than just humans. These misinformers are causing bad policy decisions that hurt developing country economies and the environment as well.

  4. One thing I noticed as I was looking at the Google Image Search results for GMO, biotechnology, transgenic, and genetic engineering –
    1) transgenic seems to be the most sciencey with all those diagrams
    2) biotechnology looks like it’s used a lot in advertising with all those slick graphics
    3) genetic engineering still has some science based images but clearly has been compromised
    4) GMO is almost completely anti-GMO activist imagery
    What does this tell us? IMHO it means we need to use all of these terms in our writing to ensure that science based information is present no mater what someone is searching for.

  5. It’s the same old false equivalency we’ve been seeing from the science communication industry for years. People aren’t against GMOs – they’re AFRAID of them. People must be uneducated or science illiterate if they don’t support Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, et al.. they hate progress. They want people in Africa to starve. It’s just a somewhat sophisticated public relations ploy. Until you separate the technology from the applications, and are willing to critically assess how these global corporations have utilized patented genes to turn billion dollar profits, at the expense of health and the environment, why should anyone be interested in speculation about people’s “acceptance”? At this point, the benefit of GE to agriculture is drowned by this kind of clap trap. It’s unfortunate that such a beneficial technology has been bastardized for profit. Such is science in the age of the new robber barons, and all the poor scientists who must make a living somehow, and therefore align themselves with corporate interests. And the blurry blurry lines between regulation and industry grow ever more porous.
    It must have been a weird situation for the industry advocates when Trump was elected. On the one hand – yuck! So socially, intellectually and scientifically corrupt! But, on the other hand, yay for the companies whose need for public relations spills a little profit into the “communication” sector, while regulations are loosened and the money flows upward.

  6. I think Dr’s like Zach Bush are making people more aware of the GMO story, and as the public gets educated they prefer not to buy the products. It didn’t help that there was more interest on making money on GMO’s then helping the farmer.

    I think Zach has come the closest to explaining what RR crops do to the gut. I know I’ll get dog piled from all the experts here, but its worth listing too before you throw me under the bus. I was in the seed business and saw first hand the greed into controlling the seed supply and selling chemicals. Most farmers don’t get to see that and they assume that the Chemical companies are here for their benefit and to make the farmer more money.

    1. I also was in the seed business and didnt see what you claim to have. So explain. How is the seed business trying to control the seed supply? And how could they even if they wanted to?

      1. How may companies are left, and who are they owned by? And how did they consolidate so quickly?

          1. Help what? You seem to like to make accusations but then act very dodgy when probed on these accusations.
            It seems like you’re trying to make the point that consolidation means control of the seed supply, but the article you’ve provided is just talking about corn/seed companies that have consolidated. Interestingly, the one I worked for up until 2007 when it was bought by Monsanto isn’t listed. There are around a couple hundred seed companies in the US most of which are privately owned. In fact, the largest privately owned one in America is 20 mins from my house. There are many more that
            exist globally.
            Can you name any industry that hasn’t gone through periods of consolidation?

          2. So if a company buys more companies and increases market share, it doesn’t have any more control of the seed supply?

          3. It has a larger share of the seed market. Not necessarily the seed supply. But the same thing holds true for someone who increases their business organically. For example, the privately held company I referenced before has grown by leaps & bounds over the past decade. Are they also trying to control the seed supply? Or are they just trying to grow their business?

  7. Funniest thing about the “dangers” of GMOs? GMOs are one of humanity’s oldest technologies, if not the oldest.

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