Sunday, May 29, 2016
Socialist low ground versus moral high ground
Mitch Daniels for (future) president
Ninety eight percent of everything we eat is genetically modified.
You certainly wouldn’t know that if everything written by the food police is taken to heart. What comes out of their shrill whistles is a continuing litany of warnings of increases in cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney diseases, autism and allergies if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are allowed to touch any parts of your body. They, the elitist clan who rely on computer modeling as if it was one of the cornerstones of their fountain of youth, have convinced 57% of Americans that genetically modified foods pose health risks. Their antics, though, have failed to prove a single long term, specific health problem.
On the contrary, the benefits from real science that has produced these organisms has done more to enhance human existence and environmental sustainability than anything in the last two decades.
The manipulation of the sought characteristics of the current crop of GMOs versus the traditional manipulation of genetic tendencies is tied to the transfer of certain genes by cellular intrusion. That differs from a cattle breeder who controls a genetic process by capturing desired characteristics through selective breeding, but the results are the same. It gives the resulting organism traits they would not otherwise have.
The major benefits are currently associated with plants where genetic alteration is resulting in pest and herbicide resistance. This allows the reduction of pesticides and herbicides without the worry of killing the planted crop. In the field, the result is fewer passes across the land, reduced tillage, and a decreased footprint on our nation’s soils. That is the real benefit, but that is not the message the critics are voicing.
Depending on which whistle is protesting, they are suggesting the expansion of GMOs is certain to cause many maladies including intolerance to gluten, increased autism, Type II diabetes, obesity, and, perhaps, even the spread of six toed children. Their message is repeated enough that over half of the folks believe the sky is actually falling.
The truth is … it isn’t.
The National Academies of Science has finally published a study on the affects of GMOs. The scope of the research considered more than 900 studies over a 20 year period. They found nothing that would suggest pending mass murder through the planting of modified zucchini and summer squash. Alas, GMOs are safe for humans and animals.
The number of GMOs grown worldwide is low. The United States grows modified cotton, soybeans, sugar beets, corn, canola, alfalfa, and a few fruits and vegetables. The major emphasis is in corn, soybeans, and cotton. Overall, the modified varieties are saving huge amounts of money, but they have not significantly increased yields. They have lowered pests in some cases, and, if there is a negative, there is some herbicide resistance weed expansion (but there is resistance weed expansion everywhere just as there is resistance growing in antibiotics).
Around the world, about 12% of all cropland has been planted in the new modified varieties, but there is much pushback against their use and especially in the European Union. It was interesting, therefore, that the study found no long term patterns of health patterns from Canada and the United States, where the plants have been planted since the mid ‘90s, to Europe, where GMOs are not widely eaten. An example was the increase of autism in children. The patterns from Europe to the United States and Canada are very similar.
A Voice in the Cornfield
The problem is what should we actually believe?
The GMO story is tangible. It is working and the outcome is not indifferent from all the practical application of genetic modification that has taken place for a millennium. The food police and the social groupies, however, aren’t buying the study results. They are stuck within their PC algorithms and cocktail party discussion points, and, as a political force, they are powerful. One anti GMO website alone has 35,000 verifiable non GMO products of which enlightened, civilized folks ought to be feeding to themselves and their day cared offspring.
The anti GMO groups are attacking the report claiming that the participating scientists are tied to industries and corporations that are vested in sale of the modified crops. The resulting conflicts of interest are contributing to watered down science due to those agricultural influences.
Isn’t that akin to the pot calling the kettle black?
The fact is politically correct science has captured its own permanent funding sources. The expected outcome is what the funding agents intend to prove hence the problem with this science more often than not is … it isn’t.
Examples are numerous.
In an attempt last summer to replicate 100 published psychological experiments, 65% failed to show statistical significant repeatability. Most of the remainder showed reduced effects. As a result, William A. Wilson revealed that modern psychology research is a house of cards filled with unreproducible results.
Wilson described a similar effort to duplicate cancer research results. Data from fully 75% of the cases in the review failed to match up with the attempts to replicate them. Such results must mean that either the original findings were false or they were useless. Results that cannot be reproduced in science are, by definition, useless.
The problem isn’t isolated to psychology or medicine. Climate change is the bell cow of the movement, but the same modeling is spreading to other fields allowing researchers to invent their own virtual realities rather than investigating undisciplined nature.
The measurement of that natural world isn’t clean or clinical hence it is more trendy and socially “heady” to invent computer modeling extra-realities. We have entered a computer driven world of unreproducible results and political driven outcomes. The debacle is huge, and, again, climate change science is leading the way. It alone accounts for 55% of all modeling done in science and 97% of climate change research is computer modeling. More and more we are realizing the outcome isn’t tied to real world observations at all. It is computer driven modeling science and it is being used as a political wedge to demonize opposition in all conflicting issues. To the environmental mobs, it is their higher authority. To the rest of us, it is creating a nearly universal suspicion that all science is suspect.
Of course that shouldn’t be the case, but, in order for it to regain credibility we must also regain a renewed position of strength to fight this battle.
We might start by watching the leadership of Purdue University’s president, Mitch Daniels. Aside from the fact he has excelled in the world outside of academia and has earned a spot in Fortune’s top 50 world leaders, he is standing toe to toe with the anti GMO foes demonizing our industry. His assessment of the tirade against us is our foes are the stewards of “blatant anti-science”.
“It (anti GMO forces) is inhumane and it must be countered on that basis,” he preaches.
The antagonistic coalition, including U.S. organic companies and environmental groups, are stoking a worldwide fear about many things in production agriculture and GMOs are in their immediate crosshairs. Daniels reaches into the heart of the matter and is calling out the tedious environmental indulgence by the rich.
“It (demonization of GMOs) is not just scientifically indefensible, it is morally indefensible,” he preaches.
The world is on a trend line to surpass 9 billion souls within years and could reach 11 billion sometime after mid-century. That represents a lot of hungry folks in our future. President Daniels is shouldering this task on the basis that global agriculture isn’t simply dollars and cents. It is a humanitarian mission. It represents life and death and the avoidance of tragedy. He also thinks we have the moral high ground and … we need to start conducting ourselves as such.
As I struggle to finish this day, I am reminded that the real world is neither neat nor tidy. I’ve been in the corral sorting, and, as I look down, I realize my boots are not house worthy. They are covered with earthy, undisciplined nature. They have been with me as the quest for a more perfect cow for our country continues. It is a constant and stepwise process as certain specific traits are sought. Today’s events were more subjective than objective, but the incremental steps toward producing an animal that can convert grass and grow a calf under these desert conditions better than her predecessors is the constant goal. It is in every sense genetic modification.
We aren’t taking a drought tolerant gene from a jackrabbit to bridge a characteristic gap that would make our cattle more tolerant, but, if we could, we would. Hail to the man who has the skills and the intelligence to perform that feat.
He’s welcome at our camp … anytime.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Hoorah for GMOs!”