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James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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  1. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    What percentage of people who consider themselves on the left do you think are anti-GMO?

    I find it to be a non-issue.

    Can I write an article called “The right causes tooth root” every time I read an article on anti-Fluridation which has largely been a provenance of the right?

    Medical wackiness seems to exist on both the left and the right in equal numbers including the anti-Vaxxers.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Anti-GMO opposition isn’t just a vanishingly rare breed with no influence. They’ve so far managed to prevent Golden Rice from being legalized in any country for over a decade. That’s real power.

      And it’s inaccurate to pin anti-fluouridation on just the right. It’s a distressingly bipartisan idiocy.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      What percentage of people who consider themselves on the left do you think are anti-GMO? I find it to be a non-issue.

      I was really surprised to find such high rates of disapproval from Gallup:

      Republicans are less likely to be concerned about genetically modified foods than Democrats or independents are. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans think these foods can pose a health hazard, compared to 38% of Democrats and 36% of independents.

      Whites are substantially less likely than nonwhites to say that genetically modified food presents a hazard. Twenty-nine percent of whites think modified foods could be hazardous, while 52% of nonwhites think the foods could pose hazards.

      The minority divide was the biggest of all the demographic splits they reported, which probably also explains much of the partisan difference. Still, GMO-phobia is both a real isssue and – at least by a factor of 1.3x or so – is more of an issue for the left. Of course, the most important statistic would be on left/right activism against GMO.Report

    • Avatar dand in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      I don’t know how many on the left oppose GMOs but I do know that the Obama administration caved to the EU on the issue of GMOs in a WTO case.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to dand
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        says:

        @dand,

        Could you elaborate on that? I remember when the big EU v WTO (or something) case was in play, but I hadn’t heard about the Obama admin’s case against EU opposition to GMOs. What specifically was involved? (My guess is that it had to do with sovereignty rather than science, but that and four dollars, ya know?)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to dand
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        says:

        Just read about this. The so-called Mansanto Protection Act:

        “In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.”

        Here’s a Wiki quote from the Plant Protection Act, passed in 2000:

        “The Plant Protection Act provides that the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture may issue regulations “to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or the dissemination of plant pests within the United States.” 7 U. S. C. §7711(a). Pursuant to that grant of authority, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) promulgated regulations that presume genetically engineered plants to be “plant pests”—and thus “regulated articles” under the PPA—until APHIS determines otherwise. However, any person may petition APHIS for a determination that a regulated article does not present a plant pest risk and therefore should not be subject to the applicable regulations. APHIS may grant such a petition in whole or in part.”

        Obama apparently very recently signed the “Monstanto Protection Act” into law.

        Weird stuff, seems to me.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to dand
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        says:

        Weird in at least one way I should say: the whole thing is contradictory and very obviously political.Report

    • Avatar notme in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Saul:

      We can always count on a knee jerk defense when anyone writes anything critical of the left on this web site. Heck, I’m not sure how it got past the censors.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    That being said, despite my pushback on your provocative title, I have very little patience for the anti-GMO crowd.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      That those people can oppose GMO’s in the teeth of the overwhelming scientific evidence yet at the same time sneer furiously at the right wing for their AGW denial makes them hypocrites as well as idiots.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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        says:

        How long until the world dies?
        Depends on Monsanto, don’t it? (shouldn’t single them out, really.)
        [Seriously, some folks have no vision as to HOW badly we can fuck up our food supply. Genetically engineered crop failures sound like fun?]Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to North
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        says:

        I wonder how much opposition to GMOs is an extension of anti-corporate sentiment. Would this be primarily a right-wing phenomenon if the most prominent producers of GMOs were governments?Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    How is this position coextensive with “the left”?

    If I simply said that the anti-vax crowd simply is “the right,” would that make it so? No. Left is left (whatever that is), right is right (whatever that is), anti-vaxxers are anti-vaxxers, and anti-GMOs are anti-GMOs.

    And for that matter, non- or limited-materialism isn’t “liberal.” I don’t even perceive much of a correlation in that direction my self, but then I am sure we are working from a different sample set of liberals.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    I’m joining Saul and Michael Drew in their dissent. Only a specific faction of the Left is opposed to GMO food. Most of us are either neutral towards or see its benefits. I’ll grant that the faction of the Left that loathes GMO food is very passionate about their hatred and this passion allows them victories that given their numbers they should not have but you can say the same about other issues. Not everything in politics is simply a matter of numbers.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    Michael, Saul, and Lee,

    I’m pleased, and I look forward to you three instantaneously rebutting any commentor who identifies libertarianism only with its most extreme adherents, especially as they have demonstrably far less influence on anything of importance than the anti-GMO folks within the left.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      I think a better comparison is conservatism and the anti-abortion crowd. Surely not all conservatives are anti-abortion, but it is definitely a problem in conservative spaces. Likewise LGBT issues.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      I trust you’ll be all over it. We’re all perfectly capable of looking out for our own tribes in this, which I’m doing here. And I’m not going to be told to protect groups whose views and affiliations I don’t really understand by someone who has just failed to police his own rhetoric in exactly the way he calls out others for failing to do when his own group is transgressed. We’re more attuned to it when the misidentification implicates us, and we respond accordingly. That’s perfectly workable. It’s not so important that these mistakes not be made. It’s a positive process that they are continually made, and the appropriate rebuttals reiterated by those most implicated. They speak best for the ways in which the identifications are mistaken. And onlookers slowly learn.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Michael,

        We’re talking about a group with enough influence to prevent the use of Golden Rice for over a decade, at a cost of nearly 1 1/2 million life years. And yet the big issue here is how unfair I am being to the left, because these people aren’t a significant group?

        Good lord, my eyes can’t roll fast enough to keep up.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        It wouldn’t be an issue at all if you hadn’t marred your post and point with such an egregious, hypocritical, and superfluous error born of a greater desire to tar a bigger group you dislike rather than just a smaller group you dislike than to let the importance of your substantive point about those who do this advocacy stand on its own.

        And it’s not the big issue. It’s an issue that can be quickly dealt with in order to facilitate better focus on the more important issues, which are 1) the harm done 2) why these people think what they think if it’s so clearly unfounded, 3) how much influence they have (are you sure it’s only their influence that is causing these policy outcomes?), and 4) & 5) (as always) what are the right policies and how can we enact them?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        It wouldn’t be a Michael Drew comment without an absolutist claim about his correspondent’s motivations. That’s what makes you such a valuable addition to the blog. Because without your insights, how would we know what people are really trying to say?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        I threw that in just for you! 😉Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        …But:

        – It’s a larger group;

        – your approach tarred them;

        – that approach was mutually exclusive with letting the importance of your substantive point about those who do this advocacy (anti-GMO activists, whatever their other political affiliations) stand on its own.

        I’m just not concerned with saying that I think that what you did you desired to do. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. We’re all wrong pretty frequently around here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Thanks for your concern, Michael. I’ll give it the same consideration I give most of your comments.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        As compared to those nonexistent extremist libertarians who have totally not had anything to do with preventing single payer health care in the USA, with all its associated economic and life expectancy outcomes.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Not claiming Scaife as a Libertarian?
      Daaayum. you’re restrictive, aintcha?Report

  6. Avatar James Pearce
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    says:

    I think you’re conflating a couple of issues. The “anti-GMO” crowd are rather ignorant, but they’re not really opposed to GMO crops with extra nutrition. Indeed, if that were the purpose of most GMOs –and it’s not– then I bet you’d see a lot of the “anti-GMO” crowd reconsidering their positions.

    And hate to say it….but your critic is right. Add all the vitamin A to the banana you want. It won’t help when bad men with guns take all the bananas for themselves.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Pearce
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      says:

      But these bananas, as well as golden rice, do have extra nutrition. And they’re opposed to them. They’re not opposed because of the extra nutrition, but the extra nutrition doesn’t turn them into supporters.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        They oppose them for the same reason libertarians oppose harmless government regulations.

        It’s the good ole slippery slope.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Depends on teh anti-GMO group.
        And who’s running it.
        **my opinions are my own, but I won’t say that there are not conflicts of interest in my comments.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Okay, I’ll fess up. I’m the one.

        I’m the leftist that opposes GMOs.

        We are at the very beginning of our understanding of genetic science. I will grant you that it is very possibly the next technological revolution, and will ultimately do more to improve the human condition than PCs and iPhones ever had a chance to.

        But it’s a vast and complicated science, and we understand it only a tiny little bit. So we’ll transfer sequences from one plant to another plant, or even from an animal to a plant, but understand this: if you know chaos theory, you understand that even small changes to vastly complex systems can wreak all kinds of unintended change. We are not masters of the universe: we’re chimpanzees with a hammer, trying to fix a watch.

        Look at our understanding of nutrition science: the science we were all taught in the 70s was undermined by the science we were taught in the 80s, which was undermined by the science we were taught in the 90s. Heart disease is caused by consuming too much fat! No! Too much cholesterol! No, it’s the carbs! No, it’s the sugar!, No, it’s the inflammatory response!

        If we can’t get that much right, we sure as hell don’t know the downstream consequences of messing with the genetic code of the things we consume. Because once you start creating genetically modified crops, you can’t really put the toothpaste back in the tube: crops produce pollen, which gets carried by wind and insects to other crops–we’ve seen it happen with genetically modified soybeans and corn.

        If there were a way of ensuring that these genetically-altered plants don’t become a permanent part of the ecosystem, I’d be all for using them to relieve starvation (or erectile dysfunction, for that matter). But since we can’t (or, at least, don’t), the moral equation becomes a little more complicated.

        Man, in his arrogance, always assumes he knows enough. So, in our use of fossil fuels, we triggered the warming of the earth. In our embrace of industrial chemicals, we have spawned cancers. Our casual use of antibiotics has led us to a point where we may be facing plagues again in our lifetimes. Iatrogenic disease is the leading cause of death in hospitals. And, in the case of genetic manipulations, the potential blowback could deep-reaching, catastrophic, and irreversible.

        In my framework, we should be treating GMOs the same way we do radiation or poisons–until we have developed fool-proof systems for containing its spread, and for evaluating the risks of using it or not using it, we should be as conservative as we possibly can. In my worldview, Europe has it a lot righter than we do.

        I am not pro-starvation, but I am really worried at the arrogance that leads us to believe that we know all we need to know about the genetic manipulation of life forms when the science is still only about 30 years old.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @snarky-mcsnarksnark ! My wife and I were just fondly remembering meeting you out in Las Vegas! And here you go, showing up.

        To your substantive point, it was my understanding that the vast majority of these GM crops are engineered to be sterile — this is in part by what seems a cynical design, so that the manufacturer can sell viable seed to the farmers yearly and sustain profitable operations, and in part as a safety measure against the sorts of chaos you point out could happen. Is that not the case?Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Burt! According to NPR, it is a myth that GMO crops are sterile. Monsanto owns a patent on the quasi-famous “terminator seed,” but doesn’t actually exercise it.

        If the crops were demonstrably and reliably sterile, that would go to relieve much of my anxiety about GMO plants–in our worst case, we would only be tainting a couple human generations.

        But GMO bacteria can escape into the wild and become virulent, and GMO bacteria / viruses are the target of medical research, being used to produce insulin and other hormones, and to effect in vivo genetic changes.

        We just don’t know enough about genetics to do anything more sophisticated than tinker with genes. From the time I was in college, geneticists were claiming that 80% of our genome is “junk DNA,” which encodes nothing, and has no value (I never believed this). Two years ago, they said “oops,” it has real information after all.

        We should be researching the crap out of this, and using it to relieve suffering in constrained circumstances where there is absolutely no danger of contaigon or “genetic escape.” But I think it is folly and arrogance to blithely incorporate these tinkered-with lifeforms into our world.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        This is what I meant when I said I understand why people are wary of GMOs. I don’t get treating all GMOs as unhealthy, when there’s nothing to suggest that they are. I do get worrying about mucking around with nature, because if history is any indication, when we throw new organisms into an environment, bad things happen. And these are new organisms that we made with our barely-scratching-the-surface knowledge of how genes work and interact.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        If the crops were demonstrably and reliably sterile, that would go to relieve much of my anxiety about GMO plants–

        I get that, but there’s sort of a catch-22 for firms producing them. If they make them sterile, they ease some of your concerns, but they boost others’ concerns that it’s a plot to keep indigenous farmers dependant by making them buy seed.

        That’s not your fault and doesn’t make you bad–although you did admit to being a killer 😉 –it’s just a fact of political life for these firms.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        FTR, I think it’d be worth everyone’s time, whether their disposition is pro-GMO or anti-GMO, to read the link my man @snarky-mcsnarksnark provided above. According to that report, GMO seeds are mostly not sterile (contrary to what I had understood), but Monsanto is also not particularly eager to haul you off into court because a stray seed of their product wound up sprouting in your field.

        It’s surprising how much mythology people insist is reality (I’d heard all five of the myths debunked in the link, and believed at least two of them) and it’s never a waste of time to make sure that your own head is cleared of fiction and get a reminder to think independently and critically.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    Golden Rice still gets me ticked off. Now super-bananas?

    Luddites.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals since the Stone Age. We call it agriculture and domestication. GMO just allows these things to happen faster.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        I’m fine with GMO’s in general but the “we’ve been GMing stuff for ever, so why care now” is a poor argument. GM through long term ag process is qualitatively different then taking one gene out of species and putting it in another. It is not a insignificant difference.

        Of course there is no reason to fear to the lab based GM but ignoring the difference doesn’t move the argument forward. From reading the various anti-GM arguments, including on the wing nut site Jame’s linked to, a lot of the anti-GM crowd is massively paranoid about big business. While they go overboard, its not like big business doesn’t also seem to go out of their way to give people reasons to be suspicios of them.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        greg,
        I’m afraid of genetically engineered crop failures. Ain’t you?Report

  8. I score a 2 on the 10 point Trolling Scale…Report

  9. Avatar zic
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    says:

    Maybe, just maybe, this GMO bucket isn’t just about bananas and vitamin A?

    Maybe, just maybe it’s about pesticide use, for seeds sold ’round-up ready,’ and applications on farms farms that even Monsanto list as ‘extreme’ in their clinical trials?

    Maybe, just maybe, there’s both some good and some bad going down here, and it’s just not this simple.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to zic
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      says:

      But are the practices you describe actually GMO issues? I’m unfamiliar with most of what you’re referring to, so maybe the answer is yes. But the use of pesticides, I had thought, isn’t a GMO issue. It’s bad (or not, or somewhere in between depending on the circumstances), but it doesn’t seem to me to necessarily implicate “genetically modified.” A plant can have pesticide on it and not be “genetically modified” (to the extent that any living organism can be said not to have been “genetically modified” in some way to distinguish it from its ancestors).Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        Most GMO crops are designed explicitly to be pesticide/herbicide-tolerant. That is, you plant GMO crops so that you can use more pesticide and herbicide, not less.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        But the use of pesticides, I had thought, isn’t a GMO issue.

        It is, actually. I think there’s broadly two types of opposition to GMOs out there in the leftosphere. THe first is based on the idea that GMing foods is bad – that doing so creates harmful food products. The second is all about pesticide/herbicide use and the negative effects of drenching crops with those products.

        Actually, I’ll throw in a third type of opposition as well: a general dislike of the Monsanto corporate model defined by patenting various Round Up ready seed strains. This one is sorta connected to the second one mentioned above, but focused on corporate practices rather than directly on the effects of using what some folks view as excessive amounts of herbicides and pesticides.

        I’d say James is right to include the anti-GMO crowd in the left, tho I think Michael is correct to point out that not all of the left is anti-GMO. I think it’s probably correct to say that most folks who identify as strongly anti-GMO in the US wouldn’t self-identify as being part of, say, the broadly Democratic coalition. At least, the folks I know who are anti-GMO don’t identify along those lines. They’re pretty down on politics in general, it seems to me.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @stillwater

        If all I thought was that anti-GMO activists aren’t coextensive with all of the Left, I wouldn’t have made much of a deal. I simply have no idea how to categorize these people. Obviously some of them are on the left – do you know that they all are? It seems like aprofoundly conservative basic concern to me. So, yeah, they’re part of the left, but they seem like mostly their own thing and potentially something of a crossover group like anti-vaxxers, so that they could be part of the right as well. (Indeed, as James’ concern is partially the international success of this movement and coalitions (Let’s!) Get Weird as you move around the globe, that possibility seems quite plausible to me.)

        (Much like Lou Rockwell-types on the libertarian right, James would want me to say. Do you remember the last time someone with any standing here said that Lou Rockwell followers *are* libertarianism? I don’t.)Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        I guess I stand corrected, or at least my ignorance has been exposed!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        We kicked out all of the Lew Rockwell sympathizers.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        The Rockwell sympathizers were really paranoid. Always going on and on about who’s watching them now…the neighbors? The mailman? The IRS?Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        “We kicked out all of the Lew Rockwell sympathizers.”

        No you didn’t.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        Stillwater,
        my libertarian friend is against GMO stuff because of the probability of genetically engineered crop failures that can only be prevented by purchasing from a particular company. Arms races with our food supply are DUMB.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic
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      says:

      The linked post is distressingly short on justification. Of course, it’s at a website that has obviously long ago satisfied themselves of the justification for opposition to products like this, whatever the concerns are, so it’s fair to say that they wouldn’t necessarily be expected to restate the reasons in every post. Maybe this is one of few where they dn’t. Or maybe they’re really pretty much just proceeding from an assumptions on those empirical questions. Can’t say from this post, which is more about the economic systems than the biology or biochem (and to be frank, the post is all patent nonsense, but in any case its focus isn’t the biological justification for the opposition).

      So there could be various such concerns, you’re right. I haven’t read up on them, but my impression is that they are all severely underjustified empirically. OTOH, there were other scientific conclusions that were once underjustified empirically (as the climate change deniers like to say…). Broadly, though, James’ basic take on the moral imperatives at work here, given the current evidence, seems almost incontrovertible to me, especially also given that there’s hardly a choice to be made with producing and distributing super-bananas and pursuing global economic justice.

      It’s fair to ask people to hear out the claims about the dangers of various food-production processes, but if you’re just going to proceed from either assumptions or long-ago-argued claims on that score, it’s fair for people not to give much regard to them.

      Do you have resources you can point us to that you think are worthy of pause?Report

  10. Avatar Francis
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    says:

    I continue to be amazed by the super powers of the all-purpose Left.

    Where, pray tell, is the agency of the govts of China, Phillippines and/or Bangladesh? Might those govts have legitimate concerns about patents, pricing and cross-contamination? Might the concerns of those govts be exacerbated by a rather difficult history with the West?

    OH NO! sez the mighty Hanley. It’s you god-abandoning Lefties who are to blame.

    10 out of 10 for sticking the knife into the ribs of your political opponents. 2 out of 10 for actually communicating the complexities of the issue.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Francis
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      says:

      Well, I think that “the mighty Hanley” is also a god abandoning fella, unless he’s undergone a very recent conversion experience. Is that a 0 out of 10 score?

      What complexities is he ignoring when he says, “But that [socio-econmic disparity] [i]s a very difficult job, and we’re not even in agreement on how to do it (I say globalization, this critic says localization), and until it’s accomplished, how many lives are we going to sacrifice while waiting for our ideal solution?” True, he doesn’t go into detail, but he acknowledges the complexities.

      And frankly, while I’m put off by his willingness to brush “the left” the way he does and by what I take to be his quasi-tu-quoque comment above inviting non-GMO’ists to correct mis-statements about libertarians, it’s not as if he’s wrong.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        If you’re framing the issue as one of “saving lives,” you’re pretty much ignoring all the complexities of the issue.

        Golden Rice is awesome. But there’s not a person on the planet who is suffering from malnutrition because they don’t have access to it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        James Pearce,

        That’s a clever framing. But of course the real issue is whether there are people suffering because they lack access to some vitamin A rich food, and whether Golden Rice, or vitamin A enriched bananas are good points of access, and whether we should be limiting any points of access for those folks.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        If they are suffering from malnutrition, it’s due to other factors, not because the lefties won’t let them plant golden rice.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        @james-pearce

        But the issue is, whatever the reasons for their malnutrition, could it be alleviated (without offsetting drawbacks) by letting them have/plant/buy Golden Rice? Are we keeping them malnourished when we could better help get them needed nourishment by dropping unjustified opposition to this product’s (or others’) proliferation?Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        “whatever the reasons for their malnutrition, could it be alleviated (without offsetting drawbacks) by letting them have/plant/buy Golden Rice?”

        It depends. The reasons for their malnutrition is crucial. If their water supply is tainted, then no….Golden Rice seed will not help. If their fields are torched by marauders, again…no help. If their government tries a “Cultural Revolution” like China once did, then no…Golden Rice will not help. If the local warlord demands you plant poppy seeds, then no….it will not help.

        GMOs are not the devil. And they are not a panacea.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        James,
        And we want to resolve those other problems. But meanwhile, while we’re working on the long slow process of doing that, do we make available something that will save the lives of half a million people a year, or do we prevent access to it?

        I have a feeling we’re in the territory of “one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic” territory here.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        “do we make available something that will save the lives of half a million people a year, or do we prevent access to it?”

        Being more anti-monoculture than anti-GMO myself, I say make it available. It will contribute to the genetic diversity of rice crops –a good thing– even if it doesn’t actually save the lives of a half a million people a year (which is still a BS claim).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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        says:

        Francis,

        I directly addressed the question about government’s concerns, insofar as Golden Rice and patents and pricing go.

        And what’s with the tone? I’m not averse to making enemies, but I don’t remember making an enemy of you. Help a fellow out and refresh my memory?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Francis
      Ignored
      says:

      Francis,

      Has it occurred to you that I wasn’t limiting the anti-GMO left just to Americans, and that those countries are also sensitive to public pressure (even the PRC).

      And those concerns about pricing and patents you mention are not relevant to Golden Rice.

      Golden Rice was invented by Professor Ingo Potrykus, then of the Institute for Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Professor Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg, Germany….

      The inventors’ desire to donate Golden Rice as a gift to resource-poor farmers in developing countries led to a public-private partnership with Syngenta to help further develop Golden Rice.

      Scientists at Syngenta then carried out additional laboratory, greenhouse, and field research to help raise the beta carotene levels in Golden Rice…

      Syngenta arranged royalty-free access to the patents and intellectual property, held by several biotechnology companies, for a number of key technologies used in Golden Rice. This allows IRRI and others to develop Golden Rice varieties on a non-profit basis.

      Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        You don’t have to persuade me, sport; it’s the governments of the affected countries who are actually the ones standing in the way of planting those crops.

        And it’s news to me that the global Left had much of any impact in those countries.

        Nice job, by the way, of not answering the question why those governments may have some legitimate concerns.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Hmm, I misthreaded my reply. It’s above.

        As to the global left, their influence has actually been growing lately. In response to globalization in general, and WTO in particular, they’ve done an increasingly effective job of organizing INGOs and talking to decision-makers. They haven’t rolled back globalization (and not all of them want to, of course), but they’re increasingly getting their issues onto the agendas of IGOs. They’re not at the level of influence they want to be at, but given the forces they’re challenging, they’ve done an impressive job of increasing their influence in the last 15-20 years.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        James,

        I’ll take your word for that, but it also stands to reason given the way globalization was more/less hammered thru in a relatively secretive, anti-democratic way. I say that without judgment and merely as a description of how the politics of international trade and WTO policies have been codified. It doesn’t seem strange to me that popular resistance to those policies have taken a bit of time to coalesce around methodologies which hold at least some promise of success.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater,

        Oh, yes. And far from being judgemental about the left, if it came across that way, I was meaning to praise them. I disagree with a lot of their globalization issues (although not all), but it’s wholly legitimate for them to try to influence the rules and outcomes, and they’ve done a good job of learning how to gain access and have influence.

        I’m not sure Alinsky would approve….. 😉Report

  11. Avatar Robert Greer
    Ignored
    says:

    It looks like I’m about to really step in it here… oh well, here goes.

    The science is still out on whether golden rice is actually the boon it’s claimed to be. The best evidence we have is that the Vitamin A in the rice somehow makes it into the human system, but this isn’t enough to say that it’s healthy — last I heard, there were no studies showing that golden rice actually prevents what it was intended to.

    The body’s processes for gleaning nutrition from a particular food are highly complex, and depend on many different factors such as the rest of your diet and the composition of your gut biome. For example, iron is difficult for your body to assimilate properly if you’re not getting enough Vitamin C, and large numbers of people are deficient in Vitamin B12 despite getting plenty of it in their diets, for reasons that are still unclear. Until we have evidence that golden rice has more than just theorized benefits, it makes sense to remain skeptical.

    Given that the jury is still out on the benefits of golden rice, it’s perhaps sensible that people oppose it. After all, Vitamin A is not a particularly difficult nutrient to provide: it’s common in mangoes, which are a staple where they grow in many of the places where golden rice has been pushed hard, and is present in very high quantities in nearly every edible leafy green. (You can get all the Vitamin A you need in a day from a mere 15 calories of Swiss chard.)

    So why aren’t mangos, oranges, and leafy greens being pushed as the solution to Vitamin A deficiency? Perhaps because these crops are not as easily commodifiable as rice. Grains are useful for governments and other centralized groups, because they can be stored in small areas and segregated from undesirable groups. Perishable crops like mangos and oranges, on the other hand, are more difficult to control: Exercising control over a granary is a lot easier than exercising control over a mango orchard.

    It’s also important to remember that even the people golden rice was supposed to help were highly resistant to the new crop. These people have already lived through many years of “land reform” that have centralized power in the hands of elites, and they don’t like the results. There’s a lot more to this issue than First-World hippies.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Robert Greer
      Ignored
      says:

      Actually, there are studies of Golden Rice’s effectiveness at delivering vitamin A to those who eat it.*

      As to why rice, because it’s already a staple food for over a billion people. We don’t need to posit government control of food supplies to explain it.

      And of course bananas are not grains. They’re very much more akin to mangoes than to rice, so they don’t fit your theory at all.

      As to why bananas, because so many people already like and eat them. Nobody’s opposed to people eating these other foods as well, but changing the local food culture to accept a new food is just one more hurdle. It’s not necessarily impossible to overcome, but giving people something they’re familiar with can be easier.

      At least potentially. You correctly point out local skepticism of Golden Rice. Unfortunately, those folks do have good reason to be skeptical of what they’re told. But anti-GMO folks aren’t really helping matters here.
      ________________
      *There are reports that at least one of those studies used children and did not get informed consent from those who ate it. If that’s true, it’s an egregious violation of human subjects research ethics, even though there’s been no evidence of GMOs being dangerous for consumption. But even if that’s true, the evidence from it still remains valid. But even though the evidence from such a study remains valid, it’s still an ethics violation that should be roundly condemned.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        James, I don’t think I communicated my reservations about golden rice’s Vitamin A very well. I never said that golden rice didn’t deliver Vitamin A to the human system, I said that it’s not clear whether the body can use the Vitamin A for the purposes the golden rice was intended for, such as preventing night blindness and other symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency. The source you linked to actually takes my side on this.

        This may seem outrageous — “golden rice provides Vitamin A; what do you mean it doesn’t help with Vitamin A deficiency?”, but nutrition is complicated and there are many instances of vitamins and supplements not working as intended because our artificial provenance of them does not mesh with the body’s existing processes for accommodating these nutrients. A good scientist would have to reserve judgment on the efficacy of golden rice in preventing Vitamin A deficiency.

        I think we should question why monoculture grains have become a staple worldwide. They’re almost always environmentally destructive, they usually lack crucial vitamins, and they tend to deplete soils and lead to periodic famines. Political analysis of the rise of grains shouldn’t be out of the question. The culinary history of the Roman Empire and its rivals provides a lot of interesting food for thought: Barbarians lived mainly off of “forest food” — game meat and nuts and berries — while the imperialistic Romans considered it uncivilized to eat anything other than bread, often shunning bread that wasn’t white. At least until their civilization collapsed in part due to military overexpansion and terrible land use practices (sound familiar?).

        It’s also worth mentioning that bananas are monocots, which are technically not trees at all but rather giants herbs. They therefore function very much like rice (another monocot grain), while mangoes are a woody flowering tree.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Robert,
        To date the studies point in positive directions, even though they don’t answer your specific question, and no harm has been demonstrated. IRRI wants to do more studies, to answer that question, which is clearly what is scientifically indicated, but anti-GMO folks oppose those studies.

        Where do you stand? You’re objecting that Golden Rice isn’t fully proven yet, so do you support further studies or oppose them? If the latter, then its not-fully-proved status wouldn’t really be your true rejection, would it?Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        James, I think it’s possible to have different sets of objections simultaneously, and that these objections might reinforce one another. Golden rice’s unproven efficacy should be an alarm bell to anyone who knows how hard it’s being pushed on people. Combine the crop’s inefficacy with the fact that there are widely available alternatives, and things start to really look fishy.

        But that’s not all. You’ve claimed that there is no patent problem with golden rice, but this is not quite accurate. While it’s true that the parent strain of golden rice has an open intellectual property status, the parent strain is not actually all that valuable because it doesn’t contain enough beta carotene to really make a dent. The daughter strains that are currently being ginned up by different GMO researchers, on the other hand, are expected to be actually helpful, and there is no apparent abdication of intellectual property on those strains.

        Between golden rice’s ineffectiveness, its unnecessariness, and its apparent intended monopoly, the idea is starting to look like a real shitburger. And remember that golden rice is the GMO industry’s poster child: This is supposed to be the BEST exemplar of the practice. So no, I don’t think anyone should be appalled that there is massive opposition to GMO.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        I guess I never answered your question: I don’t really see the need for this testing. I already tend to lean against biological testing for animal rights reasons unless there’s a clear and compelling upside, and in this the rationale in this case just isn’t very strong. If there’s a way to test the efficacy of golden rice without intentionally creating a bunch of Vitamin A-deficient rats or piglets, then you might have a compelling purpose to the studies. (And even then it’s dubious, because the existence of unknown deleterious side effects of this product is a real possibility.) But if not, why not just educate people about the already-plentiful mangoes, melons, squash, citrus, and leafy greens?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Robert,

        It’s really disingenuous to use lack of proven efficacy as an argument, then oppose the opportunity to prove that efficacy. It sets up a catch-22. And your possibility of “unknown deleterious side effects” sounds like the precautionary principle, which is one of the most seductively attractive but misguided ideas ever promulgated.

        Also, I think the patent issue is a red herring. Under TRIPS, patents extend only 20 years from filing, after which generics can be freely made. We need to look to the future, not just the present. There’s also the internal contradiction in your comment between different strains being developed and a supposed monopoly.

        As to “just educat[ing] people about the already-plentiful mangoes, melons, squash, citrus, and leafy greens,” what you’re suggesting is that we take just one approach rather than simultaneously try multiple approaches. You also ignore the tradition of rice as a staple crop. If it’s difficult to get local populations to try Golden Rice, imagine the difficulty of getting them to make a wholesale change in their national diet.

        As always, you argue well and thoughtfully. But I think you are on the wrong side of this issue, both intellectually and morally.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        James, what’s disingenuous? GMO researchers don’t have a positive right to have their products studied. If animal research would undoubtedly produce substantial harm and would have only uncertain benefits that can be already be easily gained through other avenues, it’s not crazy to ask whether it’s worth it.

        Unknown side effects are not just inchoate, ad hoc rationales to oppose genetic modification, but are in fact especially salient in the realm of nutrition because of the field’s complexity. GMO advocates like to point out that crops have been genetically modified for thousands of years through artificial selection. But even that relatively benign form of selection has led to problems: By selecting for certain traits, we’ve unwittingly bred a lot of the nutrition out of our herbs and fruits. Scientistic medical measures to cure certain forms of malnutrition have led to mass poisonings, because the internal processes were not understood as well as was thought at the time, and the supposed “fixes” were highly alien to the biological processes that have evolved over tens of millions of years. Skepticism of gene splicing that’s rooted in this knowledge isn’t superstition. It’s induction.

        Besides, the reason we’re in this A-deficient pickle in the first place is because people moved from eating the fruits, nuts, and greens they evolved to eat, to eating grains like rice almost exclusively. Remember the Book of Genesis, where Paradise was filled with fruits and herb-bearing seeds, while East of Eden where death and disease lurked, man needed to wrench the “herb of the field” from the ground by the sweat of his brow? That’s thousands of years of inherited wisdom. (And can you tell by now that GMO opposition is perhaps fundamentally conservative?)

        Why do you think it would be harder to get Indians to eat more mangoes, or Africans to eat more melons or yams, or Central Americans to eat more squash, or East Asians to eat more oranges? These are some of the most common crops in the world; why do you think people instead should be goaded into eating stuff that was concocted in an industrial park? The problem isn’t that people don’t like to eat sources of Vitamin A. The problem is that the markets for these products are distorted, both by property rights regimes that tend to favor the production of commodifiable crops, as well as by First-World food aid, which focuses almost exclusively on exported grains and drives the relative price of non-grain products through the roof.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @robert-greer

        this is excellent. The only thing I’d add to it is shelf life; it’s not as profitable to grow and ship fresh fruits and vegetables with short shelf life. Rice lasts, mangos don’t. There is some importance to good regional production networks and good growing technique, working in concert with global markets.

        I suspect organic practices are also very important; not so much for the food (I don’t think there’s as big a difference short of pesticide over-dosing,) but important for overall environmental health; particularly water supplies, pollinators, and farm-workers’ direct health.Report

  12. Avatar Creon Critic
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ll add my voice to the criticism of the title selected, call it, at minimum overbroad and over inclusive. Personally, as someone on the leftward side of the spectrum, my very first op-ed in the student newspaper my first year of college, umpteen years ago, was specifically in praise of golden rice and its possibilities. So the title, “the Left Kills”, particularly didn’t resonate with me.

    And with a claim as eye-catching as “the left kills” I was expecting the links to be to ThinkProgress, Mother Jones, The Nation, n+1, Jacobin, or some mightily prominent outlet of leftish views. When I do turn to these outlets I find typically thoughtful lefty introspection on the topic (see for example, Danny Kohl’s piece in the Nation, “GM Food–Another View”, the letters in response, “GMO? Hell No!”, and Kohl’s replies to the response).

    The Nation back and forth was particularly interesting, here http://www.thenation.com/article/gmo-hell-no , because it added some flesh to the competing points of view. For example (from the link, here Kohl writing in reply to critics, emphasis in original),

    …for people with no other source of vitamin A, satisfying the Recommended Daily Allowance would require consumption of impossible amounts of rice. (Benefits to vision occur far short of RDA, by the way.) But benefits are not “all or none.” Peter Rosset of Food First is, of course, correct. Golden rice is not the solution. The empirical question is whether it can make a significant contribution to improving public health. While many find vitamin A supplements an attractive alternative, it is not inexpensive. In 1994 the World Bank estimated the cost to be 50 cents per person per year (two doses, including administration costs). South Asia might have 1.25 billion people. If only 1 of every 12.5 people (children and adult women) requires supplements, that’s $50 million per year.

    This post would have benefited from less of the partisan hatchet job / left-bashing and from more thoughtful consideration of the various perspectives (some of which have been touched on in the thread, monoculture vs. polyculture, possible low-tech interventions (from the link, “trap crops for common pests, polycultures replacing monocultures, changing planting times and patterns, etc.”), the intellectual property considerations, the pesticide/herbicide use considerations, and the limitations of, for example, golden rice). But that piece, thoughtful consideration of several positions, wouldn’t have been as effective a vehicle for scoring points against the left. One might say this piece is what happens when partisan point-scoring trumps analysis. I might as well write a post entitled, “Various Libertarian Commenters, FYIGM Libertarians. Who kill!!!”.Report

  13. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m going to Stop&Shop today so I’m probably in the clear to comment on this.

    Kudos, @james-hanley . While I agree somewhat with the pushback about painting with broadstrokes, I am going to assume a certain intentional hyperbole here aimed at pushing those on the left who really do care to call out their otherwise ideological peers on this idiocy. If we’re going to call out the right when they don’t keep their house clean of loonies, it only seems fair we get called out in return.

    To the issue itself, the left (and, really, society) needs to square this circle on this and other issues. For instance, I don’t blame developing nations for telling us to buzz off about environmental standards when it is the best and quickest way for them to modernize, especially when we took that very same route and only started to care about the consequences after reaching a point where we could afford to. But GMOs are even worse. At least (most) environmentalism has sound science behind it; not so for GMOs. They are the ultimate first world problem.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah seconded. GMO’s are to the left (on a enormously smaller, more niche scale- pace Michael et all) what AGW is to the right.

      Heck, one can even note that GMO’s are even less excusable, they’re pretty much open shut helpful. Even if you agree entirely about the AGW issue the question of what/how to do about it remains enormously hard.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Honestly, I think the criticism of my title and last line is not wrong. I’m just amused, given how often left-leaning commenters here do the same to libertarians, that so many from that camp are so quick to object. Suddenly that kind of behavior is outrageous, but only because this time it’s their ox that’s gored.

      And I can’t help but notice the difference between your position of policing one’s own side, as compared to Michael Drew’s position of policing only the other side. One of those positions is thoughtful, the other not so much.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        given how often left-leaning commenters here do the same to libertarians

        It’s really not that often at all anymore in my experience, certainly not as prominently as you did here, though I’m paying less attention to the blog generally these days. When was the last time an example as egregious as this occurred, especially this prominently? That I’m paying less attention means that if you throw it up in the title of a post rather making an identification error in the comments I’m much more likely to see it. So maybe that’s what’s going on. But even if it still is happening that often in comments, frankly, if that’s where it’s happening it’s not as a big a deal as what you did here.

        My position may be less thoughtful than yours and Kazzy’s, but I’m simply not going to make promises that I know I just don’t have the time to be devoting to the blog to keep. I’m not going to be going around looking to police this at all,against my group or anyone’s, frankly. If you do it as prominently as you do here (or a lefty does it as prominently against conservatives or libertarians as prominently as you do here), then it might catch my eye and I might say something. But I’m not going to make any promises. That’s my position, no more, no less. I’ts not a refusal, it’s an honest prediction of my actions. You yourself respond a lot more to this happening to libertarianism than to other groups as well (and now you’ve written this, so you’re a hypocrite on it to boot – even if you were trolling), so in practice I don’t think there all that much to distinguish your position and mine. I’m just being honest about it.

        Say what you will about that, but in my view from the perspective of effects it’s enough to try to police oneself (which you’ve failed to do), and police others doing this where you happen to be moved to do it, which realistically is going to be more when it’s your group being broadbrushed. I don’t think precommitments to busybodyism on this that none of us is likely to follow through on makes any of these kind of mistakes less likely. In fact, I’d be much more favorably disposed to being called out on this by groups I might happen to do this to than by busybody bystanders trying to prove a degree of magnanimity that really doesn’t achieve anything but letting people preen in imagined self-consistency.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s really not that often at all anymore in my experience, certainly not as prominently as you did here, though I’m paying less attention to the blog generally these days

        I’m not really paying attention, but…Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m with James on this, actually. If there’s an issue underlying this issue (so we’re already in metaland) it’s that people who identify as an X are disinclined to have that X tarred by the actions of other so-called “Xers”. But at the end of the day, it’s either just a silly debate about semantics, or a substantive discussion about something more finegrained, in particular, that not all Xers are actually believers in Y. That seems fair enough, to me, and I think that’s James point here. Fact is, he’s not out of bounds when he criticizes anti-GMO activists of harming other people, and then lumping those activists in with lefties. I mean, why would that matter to (for example) me? And the point is that if it does matter then I’m more concerned about my identity as a “lefty” than I am about the policies which ostensibly justify my identification as a lefty. And so on for libertarians. Or conservatives. Or whatevers.

        Ideological identification shouldn’t trump policy endorsement, it seems to me. And if it does then the person who so identifies has things reversed in a very important way. Or at least, they need to account for why they hold ideological identification ahead of policy advocacy. I’m not sure that’s so easy to do, except in a few cases, actually. ANd certainly pragmatics and political possibility and all that enter into it. But that’s just part of the overall argument.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @stillwater

        ID issues are subordinate to policy issues, but that doesn’t mean they need to disappear entirely. But if we want ID issues to disappear entirely (which I don’t), then we need to not make mistakes like the title of this post. But I’m okay if the mistakes stay around and we spend some time trading reminders that Xs aren’t Ys, they’re their own groups with unknown degrees of overlap, etc. That’s perfectly okay IMO, as it doesn’t IMO crowd out all that much policy discussion, and in any cae it’s inevitable and kinda fun & interesting to boot. You gys have a different opinion, and that’s great. (Sorry is that’s a little jumbled, I’m in a big hurry right now.)

        @james-hanley

        No, I’m not paying as much attention of late. So how about a very recent example of an identification error as egregious as yours (it doesn’t need to be as malicious as yours) to back up your claims?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Not interested.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        No, didn’t figure as much. I don’t think you would be if it wasn’t me asking, though, either.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        It wouldn’t be a Michael Drew comment without a claim about someone’s motivations.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Either you’d be willing to do it if it was someone else asking or you wouldn’t. It’s a question of some interest and as it’s clear you’re not at all interested in answering further questions about this from me (even if it wasn’t) I absolutely don’t see the problem with me or anyone suspecting it would be one or the other.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        …Also, “I think if X were the case [Person] would do Y” is not a claim about her motivations. Just look at what it says.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        This kind of pestering about motivations and what you think someone would/not do, rather than contributing something substantive, is precisely the cause of my shifting from according you respect, as I initially did, to thinking you’re just an irritating little shit.

        The biggest error here is mine, for having given you any response at all.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Michael,

        I could look thru the site for the reference, but just the other day (like, three days ago) I corrected someone for mistaking all libertarian views for the most extermist of libertarianism. I could look it up for you. I don’t think it’s uncommon, actually, so much so I don’t really understand your objection in this case. Critcizing libertarianism in its most extreme forms is commonplace. I used to do that as well. Pretty regularly, actually.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater

        It’s up to you whether you want to look it up.

        But by your own testimony, you’ve improved. I’ve improved (I was never all that bad on this score, but I’ve still improved). Most all the regulars have improved. That’s not because of liberals with little standing to talk about libertarianism lecturing each other. It’s because we’ve listened to James. There are a few hard cases and then there are newcomers. I think the regulars have really worked on this and that’s not at all reflected in James’ general assessment of the situation. James has done what he’s done in terms of correcting these mistakes regarding libertarianism; we’re not wrong to react when he places a misrepresentation about the left as prominently has he has done here. I don’t see what anyone’s doing wrong here, except James in this post and whatever misrepresentations remain in the comments.

        I’ve given my reasons for why these corrections are better coming from those whose groups’ more common sets of views have been distorted rather than roving band of non-implicated do-gooders. I’ve said I think instances as egregious as this from James in as prominent a place on the site (the title of a front page post) essentially don’t happen anymore. And the I think the comments are much better as well. You can do whatever you like to establish that I’m wrong, or decide it’s not worth our time. Up to you.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        FTR, whether or not it’s wrong for us to speculate about each other’s motivations on this blog (When they’re opaque I hardly see what the problem really is… obviously. Maybe I just don’t get what’s obvious to everyone else, but it seems to me that trying to figure out motivations is a big part of what human communication is all about… the intentional stance and all that…), or whether or how wrong his various other pet peeves occasionally make his interlocutors (he’s far and away the most sinned-against member of our community, of that there’s no doubt!), there’s just no way that it justifies the degree of vicious name-calling very many of us routinely endure from Professor Hanley at the end of an exchange. Is there?

        Obviously I respect James’ intelligence, and I no longer take offense to these kinds of verbal assaults, but there remain times when I shake my head that this website tolerates them. Then I recall how valuable his contributions are and know why even I continue to engage him. But part of me still shakes my head. “[An] irritating little shit”? Look, I can take it. Have no doubt of that. And maybe my discursive sins nearly justify it, though I don’t think so. But is this really what we’re about as a blog?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Michael,

        Indeed there is something very wrong with making pronouncements about people’s motivations. None of us really know another person’s motivations, but you write as though you do, as though you are in position to tell another person what their motivation really is.

        It’s really a form of ‘splaining. If I mansplain women, I’m telling them what they really mean or want. If I whitesplain, I’m doing that to people of color. You Drewsplain, frequently.

        If you think another person’s motivations matter to an argument, ask them their motivations, don’t try to tell them what they are.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Here’s the deal, James. At this point if I ask, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a disdainful response from you anyway. I’m pretty sure I have asked in the past, and your response to being asked about your motivations wasn’t much better than youre response to being told what I suspect. More generally, the chances of a disdainful response from you to anything from anyone is high enough that that;s where I’m coming from with you. I’d rather tell you what I really think/suspect in order to be as forthright as I can and get an angry response from you, and not capitulate to your demands and still get public insult in response from you, than respect your wishes and still be disdained for it. That’s where we’re at.

        Beyond that, I don’t really buy your explanation. Mansplaining, whitesplaining – there’s a presumption of knowledge coming from a person with social power there. We’re just two Midwestern middle-class white dudes. ‘Splaining doesn’t really matter that much between us. (Go for it! I’d like to know what you think rather than not.)

        I write as if I know your motivations when I really just suspect them at times in order to try to draw you out about what’s really driving you, because you play so many power games in the way you argue and interact with people here. But I fully acknowledge I’m going out on a limb when I do this. The fact that you feel that it’s ‘splaining suggests to me I’ve been pretty close to the mark a few times. Otherwise you’d just be calling me crazy (which you have done other times). I think it’s a revealing way to deal with you that actually serves the community by peeling a couple layers back of your ugly exterior that you impose no so many people here. You may not like when I do this, but I actually am civil when I do it. And we can disagree aout whether being open about our suspicions about the other’s motivations is wrong, which we do. AFAIAC you have no standing to request better treatment from me, because, by your own admission, you are such an ass, so often, to so many people here. You even take pleasure in announcing it explicitly to us frequently. If you ask for P, you’re as likely to get ~P from as to get P at this point.

        And for all that, I sill greatly respect you. But that’s where I’m at with the way you comport yourself here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        he fact that you feel that it’s ‘splaining suggests to me I’ve been pretty close to the mark a few times.

        That makes no sense.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        This kind of pestering about motivations and what you think someone would/not do, rather than contributing something substantive, is precisely the cause of my shifting from according you respect, as I initially did, to thinking you’re just an irritating little shit.

        James,

        That comment wasn’t necessary and if that’s the way you really feel, then avoidance is the best approach.

        Let’s not take this any further here. Both of you have my email address. If there’s anything you want to say to me, feel free to do it there, but I don’t care for reading pissing contents before I’m appropriately caffeinated.Report

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      For instance, I don’t blame developing nations for telling us to buzz off about environmental standards when it is the best and quickest way for them to modernize, especially when we took that very same route and only started to care about the consequences after reaching a point where we could afford to. But GMOs are even worse. At least (most) environmentalism has sound science behind it; not so for GMOs. They are the ultimate first world problem.

      You know, this is what I would have thought, too. But looking at Wikipedia to try to get a better idea about who exactly the opposition is, rather than just “the left”, and it seems to suggest that (along internationals like Greenpeace) there actually is indigenous opposition to GMOs in developing countries.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        A lot of this has to do with the seed supply. GMO crops are, typically, hybrids. Seed collected from this years crops cannot be used go grow next years crops, so the farmers have to keep purchasing seed each year. And of course, those seeds are patented; so if the seeds were viable, using them would be patent infringement, and Monsanto has a long history of going after small farmers who, in some way, infringe either their patents or besmirch their products as ‘unsafe.’

        I have a deep moral aversion to much of this; tradition, since the beginning of agriculture, holds that this year’s crop provides next year’s seed.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        @fnord

        Even if I still ultimately disagree with them, I think indigenous opposition as part of a people exercising self-determination is a whole different animal than external opposition as part of an outside group attempting to make decisions on behalf of others.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        That was all taken care of with Golden Rice, as I’ve noted above. It just doesn’t work as a critique or worry in that case.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        @zic

        I think it possible to oppose the business practices of a company like Monsanto while still allowing for life saving science to do what it does.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        Kazzy,

        Are you saying that you weren’t aware that there was an indigenous opposition to all this stuff? I certainly hope you’re not saying that.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        I think it possible to oppose the business practices of a company like Monsanto while still allowing for life saving science to do what it does.

        Christamighty, have you thought about this issue at all, Kazzy?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        @stillwater

        What I’m saying is that if the people of Country X don’t want to use GMOs even if they save the lives of people in Country X, I view that differently than if the people of Country Y attempt to stop the people of Country X from using GMOs when the people of Country X want to use them.

        They’re both still wrong, but I view them differently.

        As for your second comment, I’m not sure I really understand. I have no opposition to GMOs in general. I do have issues with some (many?) of the business practices that Monsanto employs as I understand them. I don’t think this is a contradictory stance to take.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        Uhhh. OK. There might be some deeper issues involved, but … whatever!Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        @kazzy

        For traditional farmers, saving seed this year to grow next year is how you farm. (And I’m not talking subsistence farming, either, I’m talking about small producers who grow crops as commodities to sell).

        Particularly in areas prone to political disruption, this can be an essential thing; there may not be seed stock available next growing season.

        There are also other considerations; one is local adaption. I grow garlic from year to year, beans, tomatoes; they are highly adapted to my garden soils and climate, now. Along the same lines, the genetic diversity of crops gets lost, and they become giant monocultures. This actually is pretty risky; a pest that develops will likely take a much greater dint out of the global food supply with global monocultures; and there’s less genetic stock to develop resistant strains from.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        Lay ’em out, @stillwater . You know I’m all ears…Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        Kazzy, the only issue I’m concerned about here is people posting really uniformed judgments about an issue of some subtlety and importance. It’s just so easy, you know?

        If you care about informing yourself, you can do it. Yourself.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        @stillwater

        Happy to. I don’t pretend to be an expert on any of these topics. These are my layman’s opinions… nothing more. However, can you at least point me in the right direction? Are you referring more to local objection to GMOs (which, honestly, I’m not all that interested in… ultimately, the science is what matters)? The science behind GMOs? Or Monsanto?

        And to clarify and perhaps add a bit more nuance to my position, I accept that certain GMOs may be harmful, from either/both a health standpoint and an agricultural standpoint. But I’m pretty confident that the argument that any and all foods which are “genetically modified” (which there does not even appear to be a clear definition of what that means) are awful and should be outright banned is wrong.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Fnord
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        says:

        @zic
        This is my only issue with GMOs- I haven’t seen any good evidence of health problems, and although my natural Burkean caution is wary of introducing rapid genetic changes into the wild, I am willing to listen to the scientific community on the issue.
        My only concern then, is the patenting of crops, of slowly bringing what used to be freely available under a single private hand.
        I think skepticism of Monsanto is plenty warranted. Not necessarily hostility, but a heaping dose of skepticism.

        As to the title- You know, I get plenty of charity pitches, and nearly all assure me that due to a lack of a Single Thing- mosquito nets, anti-diarrheal medicien, clean water, etc- millions of lives could be saved.

        And they are right, actually- most of the misery in the 3rd World isn’t caused by anything terribly difficult to solve- its all the simple stuff that is killing them.

        Clean water supply, simple medicine, sustainable farms, and mostly, peace, would save a lot more lives than Golden Rice or Big Banannas or whatever.

        But there’s the rub- those things require stable governance, a society that can cooperate, and lack of outside malice. And THOSE are the terribly hard things to sort out.

        I’m happy to sign on to criticism of The Left* for anti-GMO folks. But given the level of rampaging and marauding that is going on in the 3rd World, both indigenous and done by 1st Worlders, it seems a bit precious to indignantly point at the GMO opponents for killing people.

        *And, yet again, I formally denounce Stalin. And Ward Churchill.

        ** But not Saul Alinski- that guy is the bomb.Report

  14. Avatar Zac
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    says:

    To those who say they’ve never met an anti-GMO lefty, come up here to Seattle: they’re everywhere. I agree with James that this is one of those handful of issues that the left is absolutely terrible on.Report

  15. Avatar zic
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    says:

    Ya’ll know that I grew up farming, that I know farmers, that I garden, right? I read about this stuff. A lot. The biggest anti-GMO group I know of, the actual people who purchase seed stock and grow food that real people eat, are not on the left; they’re on the Christian right. Sure, there’s plenty of food-snob liberalism, eating takeout from Whole Foods instead McDonalds. But there’s plenty of anti-GMO sentiment in the Sarah Palin croud. (Go read Dreher’s food posts; he writes as if the Christian right is the real source of back-to-the-land organic movement. I need to send him a copy of Scott and Helen Nearing’s book, The Good Life.)

    Left and right, it doesn’t really matter; GMO becomes shorthand a process of intruding into nature/God, rightly or wrongly; a calling card of the industrial food supply. It’s one of the few places liberals and Christian-right seem to hold common ground; which was why the whole Portland West story Tod wrote about a while back was so amusing.

    Most informed people (and they are not plentiful) have grave concerns about seed supplies, which I mentioned up thread, pesticide/herbicide use, which has implications for pollinators and may be the culprit behind much of the ‘gluten intolerance’ going round — glyphosate intolerance.

    The really odd thing to me here is that bananas without high levels of vitamin A are what bananas always have been. And here we’ve got a Libertarian calling for the right for people to have something? Really? But I don’t have a right to have contraceptives or health care or any other numbers of life-saving things?

    There’s also some significant health risk from too much vitamin A; too much and you’ll get a headache, vomit, and your skin will peel off in sheets. That’s what happened to Arctic explorers who ate Polar Bear liver, perhaps the most concentrated sources of vitamin A out there.

    The best sources of vitamin A in healthy amounts are orange fruits and vegetables. Carrots, melon, sweet potatoes and yams; and animal livers, but please avoid the polar bear variety; 1 oz. is a toxic dose. Eat bananas for the potassium and to firm-up your bowels.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic
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      says:

      And here we’ve got a Libertarian calling for the right for people to have something? Really? But I don’t have a right to have contraceptives or health care or any other numbers of life-saving thing

      I’ve never said you don’t have a right to contraceptves, and I don’t appreciate this false claim about my position. I support a right to contraceptives just as it was expressed in Griswold v. Connecticutt, a right to not have the law banning access to them. You may find that insufficient, and I respect your right to think so. But if you are as honest as I have always thought you were, you’ll stop claiming I don’t think you have a right to contraceptives.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Just plugging you in for the generic libertarian, which I know you find offensive, which makes me wonder why you chose this particular bit of hyperbole for the title.

        It seems deliberately provocative.

        And honestly, the right to a new banana, better then the old banana, doesn’t seem like a reason to suggests anyone’s killing anyone else deliberately; the real trick here isn’t a soylent-food supplement, it’s a varied diet with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. The family in Chad need some rainbows in their lives.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        The generic libertarian supports your right to contraceptives in Griswold terms, so that excuse doesn’t fly. It’s still a false claim.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        doesn’t seem like a reason to suggests anyone’s killing anyone else deliberately

        And where did I say anything about “deliberately” killing? Christallmighty, zic, would you mind terribly not pretending I said something I never actually said?

        Or if that’s the game now, can I make believe you’ve claimed the Hobby Lobby owners should have to pay for employee contraceptives out of their own post-tax earnings? Seems about equal to what you’ve done here.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        And where did I say anything about “deliberately” killing?

        Look at your headline. (Not to mention that anti-GMO is just a ‘left’ issue.)Report

      • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Uh, zic, the headline does not have the word “deliberately” in it.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to zic
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      says:

      The biggest anti-GMO group I know of, the actual people who purchase seed stock and grow food that real people eat, are not on the left; they’re on the Christian right.

      In my universe, the anti-GMO people, along with the anti-vaxxers, tend to be a certain specific kind of Christian. A sort of proto-Christian Scientist, in a way. Some of them seem slightly liberal, some of them seem very conservative, but they don’t really fit on the left-right axis very well. They’re often in favor of government regulations in general, but seem to think…you should be able to opt out of them?

      These are the same people that get upset about being disallowed from buying raw milk, and think they have gluten allergies without any real evidence.

      I tend to get confused when talking to them, they appear to just have a few weird issues (None of which I really agree with) and be in favor of whatever party they think will do it…which varies from person to person.

      If I was in Portland or something, these people would have *exactly* the same beliefs, but crouch them in left-ish terms, and sound like time-displaced hippies. But I am in *Georgia*, so the exact same people lean towards the right.

      I really think at some point we need to start updating our stereotypes. There’s a ‘naturalist’ or whatever you want to call it, philosophy, an anti-personal-science(1), anti-medicine group, that *often* ends up linked to the left, but is not really part of it.

      However, the left will sometimes pander to those people to win elections. (But before the right gets too high and mighty about that, I remind the right of some of the people *it* has pandered to. Ugh.)

      1) I would have just said ‘anti-science’, but it’s an *entirely different* ‘anti-science’ than the one on the right. These people can believe in global warming just fine. In fact, they believe in all sorts of ‘scientific dangers’, many of them completely made up.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        All the ones I’ve known are on the left, and it’s usually mingled with anti-capitalism in a somewhat conspiracy theorizing way. Maybe I need to get out more. ;). But not if it means going to Georgia–between the humidity and every other street being Peach-something-or-other, it’s too damn much!Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        I think DTC is correct about this. I’ve known some very conservative yet also very crunchy granola hippie types. Hyper focused on everything thing being natural with a good bit of self-righteousness about all their meat being harvested by themselves. They don’t trust any business to keep their air or water clean and want them regulated. They are fine with government “regulating” ( my word to tease them, which they bristle at) wild life to create more hunting opportunities. I think the desire for naturalness bleeds over into a lot of , what i consider, very shallow “natural law” ideas, native belief in America as the most shiniest city on the hill and often whites as naturally best. It’s a somewhat odd mix of beliefs that doesn’t always quite track with R vs L.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        The one hard core anti-GMO person I know well is a Francophile, as in Generalissimo, not the country with a lot of cheese. He’s Spanish, and his grandfather was a big wig in the Franco government. He’s also anti-big pharma, anti-mainstream science, and has some, uh, interesting views on a lot of other things. Every once in a while I give into the temptation to take a crack at Franco, and then get a 20 minute lecture about how Franco was the best leader ever.

        The anti-GMO people I know less well are mostly Alex infowars.com folks.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        James,
        why bother going to Georgia. In another 50 years, it’ll come to you!
        (We’ll be Alabama-climate wise).Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        The anti-GMO people I know less well are mostly Alex infowars.com folks.

        Seconded a little bit, but there seem to be different strata of anti-GMO folks. In general the trend seems to be that it’s people who don’t trust MNCs, whether because they’re evil corporations or because they’re part of the illuminati or whatever.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        The whole GMO labeling thing is pretty much a bipartisan thing in my experience. It shows up a lot in state party platforms. It’s certainly part of the Texas GOP’s party platform to require labeling of GMO foodstuffs.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        Oh, I see I left a “Jones” out of that sentence.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        The whole GMO labeling thing is pretty much a bipartisan thing in my experience. It shows up a lot in state party platforms. It’s certainly part of the Texas GOP’s party platform to require labeling of GMO foodstuffs.

        Yup. And, as someone on the left, and someone who’s not particularly worried about GMOs (1), I’m in favor of labeling them if people want them labeled.

        No particularly because it serves any point, but because the opinions of people outweigh the opinions of big agra in deciding how we label food.

        It, frankly, is a matter of principle at this point. If the voters want damn GMO food to be labeled, GMO foods should be labeled. That is how the damn government works.

        And, frankly, a lot the fight over this has caused me to completely disbelieve in libertarian claims that ‘We don’t need to ban things, we just need to inform people of risks’. Saying ‘We should not ban GMO food, we should just label it, and let the market decide’ would seem to be exactly something libertarians could get behind…and yet they do not.

        1) At least not any ‘health risks’, but I am slightly worried about monocultures and pesticide overuse. But monocultures won’t magically disappear without GMO, and the way to stop pesticide overuse is to limit pesticide use. (Frankly, if we want to clean up food production in this country, there are much better things to worry about, like the overuse of antibiotics in beef production.)Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        “If the voters want (thing), then (thing). That is how the damn government works.”

        Unless the voters want gay marriage banned, of course, because then the voters are obviously stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to ride roughshod over the rights of minorities.

        “Saying ‘We should not ban GMO food, we should just label it, and let the market decide’ would seem to be exactly something libertarians could get behind…and yet they do not.”

        Ah-heh. This is a bit like telling a liberal that they prefer a world with no minimum wage or employee protections because it’s more likely to have a lower unemployment rate.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        @jim-heffman
        Unless the voters want gay marriage banned, of course, because then the voters are obviously stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to ride roughshod over the rights of minorities.

        Did you just *sarcastically* suggest that voter’s shouldn’t be able to run roughshod over the rights of minorities?

        As in, you think they *should* be able to do that?

        Or do you think that requiring a single extra food label, in a world where food sellers are *already* required to do all sorts of tests and define nutritional information, is somehow infringing on the rights of minorities?

        Or is your analogy just completely stupid? Of course voters can’t literally get any law they want, the constitution and amendments and basic justice forbids certain laws, but they certain can get *trivial food labeling* if they want it. There’s no constitutional or moral argument against that.

        Ah-heh. This is a bit like telling a liberal that they prefer a world with no minimum wage or employee protections because it’s more likely to have a lower unemployment rate.

        And yet another stupid analogy. Liberals think repealing those laws would harm workers. So I’ll ask, knowing you won’t answer: What harm, exactly, do you think requiring labeling on GMOs would do?

        You might think it would make no difference at all, in which case, why not require it? As I said, we require food sellers to do complicated nutritional testing for the rest of their label, and we already require them to keep track of their food supply and what they put in the food they sell, so simply slapping an extra label on the nutritional label is functionally no work. (No, you don’t ‘test’ for GMO like some morons think, you simply put it on the label if your supplies are labeled that, etc, etc, all the way back to the corn field or whatever, which know damn well what seeds they use.)

        Or you think it would make a difference, that people would choose not to eat GMO foods if we told them, in which case you think corporate profits are more important than people making choices about what food they put in their body.

        It either is something people care about, in which case, if they want to know it, they have a right to demand they are informed. Or it’s not something people care about (Just a vocal minority), in which case, it’s a trivial nutritional label redesign by the FDA of the sort that happens twice a decade anyway and, for once, requires no real testing or work, and the words ‘Contains GMOs’ will just sit there right under ‘Protein 0g’.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        @davidtc

        Funny how the lefts position on GMO warning differs from it’s position on abortion warnings.

        Requiring a bogus warning about GMOs despite any evidence of harm: perfectly reasonable .

        Requiring a bogus warning about abortion despite any evidence of harm: perfectly tyranny .

        Unless you hold the same position on abortion you’re a hypocrite.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        Requiring a bogus warning about GMOs despite any evidence of harm: perfectly reasonable .

        A ‘bogus’ warning?

        What part of ‘Contains GMOs’ would be bogus?

        And why are you calling that a warning? GMO food isn’t dangerous. No one else is calling that warning. It’s a *label*.

        Do you consider ‘carbonated water’ on the ingredients list of soda to be a ‘warning’?Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        @davidtc

        1) There is zero evidence that GMOs are different than any other type of food a label stating that it contains GMOs implies that there is.

        2) If requiring doctors to provide violates the first amendment then requiring food producers to state that their product contains GMOs also violates the first amendment.

        I ma frankly fed up with the left position that government has has unlimited regulatory authority on anything other than abortion. The left will defend any occupational licensing on an issue other than abortion. If cities can impose burdensome licensing requirements of being a tour guide or interior decorator then why should abortion be any different?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        1) There is zero evidence that GMOs are different than any other type of food a label stating that it contains GMOs implies that there is.

        And there is zero evidence that a food containing ‘caramel color’ is in any way different from food that doesn’t. And yet, oddly enough, my can of Dr. Pepper is required by law to inform me of that.

        2) If requiring doctors to provide violates the first amendment then requiring food producers to state that their product contains GMOs also violates the first amendment.

        Requiring a doctor to give false medical advice is rather different than requiring truthful product labeling.

        But go ahead, I always enjoy it when asshat libertarians attempt to argue that consumers have no right to know what they’re eating. (At the exact same time they’re arguing that we don’t need regulation, as people can just make decisions for themselves…but not, apparently, if those decisions involve any *actual information*.)

        So tell, how far does this extend? Should food manufactures have to put *sizes* on the products they sell?

        Yes or no, dand. That’s a yes or no question, and I want an answer. Should food manufacturers be required by law to put the amount of food on the package?

        I ma frankly fed up with the left position that government has has unlimited regulatory authority on anything other than abortion. The left will defend any occupational licensing on an issue other than abortion. If cities can impose burdensome licensing requirements of being a tour guide or interior decorator then why should abortion be any different?

        I shouldn’t even respond to that, because it’s completely unrelated to what I was talking about, but everywhere already has burdensome licensing requirements for abortion providers. It’s called *being a doctor*, and it is *literally* the hardest job to become licensed to do.

        The regulations on abortion providers *specifically* are unique because those exists solely to drive providers out of business.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        Saying ‘We should not ban GMO food, we should just label it, and let the market decide’ would seem to be exactly something libertarians could get behind…and yet they do not

        @davidtc, I get where you’re coming from here, and I’m fairly sympathetic. Good markets require good information. That there is no evidence GMO food has any health risks is not a sufficient rebuttal to the pro-labeling argument, because people may object to buying GMO food because they have environmental concerns and don’t want to support the GMO industry. That someone like me thinks those fears are misplaced is entirely irrelevant–if anyone should be arguing that others’ reasons for their consumer choices is none of our business, it’s libertarians. Any who don’t apply that rule in this case isn’t being consistent.

        The more relevant questions are whether it’s necessary and what the real world effects would be. If people oppose GMOs, it’s not unlikely that the market will meet that demand. As the New York Times reported last year, several grocery chains pledged not to sell GMOs. Addittionally, Cato’s Walter Olson reported on how California’s Prop 65, requiring labeling of products with cancer causing chemicals became a litigation bonanza with little demonstrable benefit for public health–more of a Baptists and bootleggers scenario. GMO labeling could have been the same.

        So, in my mind, it’s not an open and shut case for labeling. I support consumers’ right to know, but it’s not certain that a regulatory approach is necessary to make that information available, nor is it certain that the primary beneficiaries will be consumers, rather than attorneys.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        @davidtc

        Back when Tod and I had our quasi-debate on this issue, I proposed that GMO-free products voluntarily label themselves as such. If eating GMO-free is so important to people, clearly it would be in companies’ best interest to note when they are and to corner the market.

        Of course, there is still the issue of what is and is not a GMO. By certain definitions, pretty much everything we eat is genetically modified even if scientists never went in and actually played with the genome. The corn we typically eat nowadays was non-existent once upon a time.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        @davidtc

        Requiring a doctor to give false medical advice i

        hey asshat, since there have been studies showing that aobrtion leads to higher suicide rate the statement “studies have shown that abortion leads to increased rate of suicide” is objectively true; the fact that the preponderance of evidence shows that abortion does not lead to higher rates of suicide does not make that statement less true.

        (At the exact same time they’re arguing that we don’t need regulation, as people can just make decisions for themselves…but not, apparently, if those decisions involve any *actual information*.)

        So tell, how far does this extend? Should food manufactures have to put *sizes* on the products they sell?

        Yes or no, dand. That’s a yes or no question, and I want an answer. Should food manufacturers be required by law to put the amount of food on the package?

        On information that serves a rational should be disclosed. Since there is no rational reason to care about GMOs there is no reason to disclose it.

        By you logic it would be ok to require manufacturers to label all products that Jews were involved in producing. Since any irrational demand for information needs to be disclosed there is nothing wrong with requiring them to state “jews were involved in the production of this item”. since your an asshat I doubt that is your standard, rather you are in fact biased against GMOs.

        houldn’t even respond to that, because it’s completely unrelated to what I was talking about, but everywhere already has burdensome licensing requirements for abortion providers. It’s called *being a doctor*, and it is *literally* the hardest job to become licensed to do.

        The regulations on abortion providers *specifically* are unique because those exists solely to drive providers out of business.

        And Chicago food truck licensing serves no purpose other than protecting brick and mortar restaurants. Many tour guide requirements serve no purpose whatsoever. My position is that all regulations should be subject to strict scrutiny, if they don’t serve any legitimate purpose the courts should strike them down. The left believes that Chicago’s food truck licensing is ok but objects to pointless regulation of abortion.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        Thank you, @james-hanley , for the being the non-crazy libertarian here, unlike dand, who seems to think making someone who is selling stuff to tell the buyer anything is a first amendment violation.

        Addittionally, Cato’s Walter Olson reported on how California’s Prop 65, requiring labeling of products with cancer causing chemicals became a litigation bonanza with little demonstrable benefit for public health–more of a Baptists and bootleggers scenario. GMO labeling could have been the same.

        There are really two different ways to do the labeling. One is to simply require supply chains to start labeling the GMO food when grown, and obviously the GMO labeling would pass up the supply chain to the end. Basically how all food ingredients labeling work…instead of saying ‘corn’, the supplier would say ‘GMO corn’. And the next level would call it ‘GMO corn syrup’. And the soda can would then list ‘corn syrup’ as an ingredient, and put ‘Contains GMOs’ where ever it’s supposed to be on the nutritional label. (Or perhaps it actually should just list ‘GM corn syrup’ in the ingredients’)

        Most of the problem with Prop 65 seems to be that companies have no idea what chemicals are what they sell. (No one runs their stuff through a mass spectrograph.)

        However, food sellers are already required to keep track of where food supplies come from anyway, so as long as ‘GMO’ is a label that works its way along the supply chain with the food, it would be fine.

        The other, crazy way to do this, the prop 65 way, would be to not require that supply chain system, and instead have every seller try to figure it out, and allow consumer lawsuits based on it, instead of simply treating it like every other nutritional label. So let’s *not* do that.

        So, in my mind, it’s not an open and shut case for labeling. I support consumers’ right to know, but it’s not certain that a regulatory approach is necessary to make that information available, nor is it certain that the primary beneficiaries will be consumers, rather than attorneys.

        I’m for it as long as it’s treated like a *food label*, where the proper corrective action is for the FDA to issue a small fine and make the company stop selling the food until they fix the labels. I don’t particularly think people should have the right to sue (At least, for not more than the amount they spend on the food.) unless they can show some specific damages, which seems fairly unlikely with GMO food.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        @davidtc

        for the being the non-crazy libertarian here, unlike dand, who seems to think making someone who is selling stuff to tell the buyer anything is a first amendment violation.

        Hey [awesome dude] did you read what wrote?

        Since your an [awesome dude] let me repeat myself:

        On information that serves a rational purpose should be disclosed.

        Since only ignorant luddites oppose GMOs there is no reason to label them.

        Do you understand now [awesome dude]?

        [Edited by J. Hanley. If you have a complaint, email the boss.]Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        @DavidTC
        hey asshat, since there have been studies showing that aobrtion leads to higher suicide rate the statement “studies have shown that abortion leads to increased rate of suicide” is objectively true; the fact that the preponderance of evidence shows that abortion does not lead to higher rates of suicide does not make that statement less true.

        Except that, of course, that’s *not* what doctors were required to say. They weren’t required to say anything about ‘studies’. Here is the South Dakota law about what physicians must provide:

        (1) A statement in writing providing the following information:

        (e) A description of all known medical risks of the procedure and
        statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman
        would be subjected, including:
        (i) Depression and related psychological distress;
        (ii) Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;

        If you try to escape via weasel words, you should probably check what the law actually says. Doctors were required to tell of the risks, including the *made up* increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.

        On information that serves a rational should be disclosed. Since there is no rational reason to care about GMOs there is no reason to disclose it.

        I’m glad to see you have been appointed the god of rationality.

        By you logic it would be ok to require manufacturers to label all products that Jews were involved in producing. Since any irrational demand for information needs to be disclosed there is nothing wrong with requiring them to state “jews were involved in the production of this item”. since your an asshat I doubt that is your standard, rather you are in fact biased against GMOs.

        If a) society wanted to know that information, and b) it wasn’t illegal and immoral to discrimination on the basis of religion, yes, it would be okay.

        Of course, (b) is a fairly big caveat.

        And Chicago food truck licensing serves no purpose other than protecting brick and mortar restaurants. Many tour guide requirements serve no purpose whatsoever. My position is that all regulations should be subject to strict scrutiny, if they don’t serve any legitimate purpose the courts should strike them down. The left believes that Chicago’s food truck licensing is ok but objects to pointless regulation of abortion.

        ‘the left’ believes that, eh?

        Well, this site has a lot of people on the left. Could you point to a specific person here who thinks food truck licensing should be stricter than other restaurant licensing?

        Or perhaps you could point to a well-known liberal writer who argues that?

        (And has *anyone* ever argued for ‘tour guide requirements’?)Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        Except that, of course, that’s *not* what doctors were required to say. They weren’t required to say anything about ‘studies’. Here is the South Dakota law about what physicians must provide:

        (1) A statement in writing providing the following information:

        (e) A description of all known medical risks of the procedure and
        statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman
        would be subjected, including:
        (i) Depression and related psychological distress;
        (ii) Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;

        So then they could say the falling “some studies have shown that abortion leads to higher risk; however the preponderance of the evidence suggests that there is no increased risk, they haven’t said anything that isn’t true.

        . Doctors were required to tell of the risks, including the *made up* increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.

        The risk isn’t made up, there have in fact been studies that show there is a risk, and most experts feel that there is not an increased risk but that doesn’t mean it was made up without any evidence.

        I’m glad to see you have been appointed the god of rationality.

        Provide me with one rational reason why a person should care about GMOs.

        ‘the left’ believes that, eh?

        Well, this site has a lot of people on the left. Could you point to a specific person here who thinks food truck licensing should be stricter than other restaurant licensing?

        Rahm Emanuel.

        When ever licensing or other regulatory issues come before the courts on issues other than abortion the left insists that courts should stay out of it because Lochner! Lochner! Lochner!. When it comes to abortion the left thinks the courts should apply stricter scrutiny.

        (And has *anyone* ever argued for ‘tour guide requirements’?)

        The city of Washington DC is spending taxpayer money defending them right now.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        So then they could say the falling “some studies have shown that abortion leads to higher risk; however the preponderance of the evidence suggests that there is no increased risk, they haven’t said anything that isn’t true.

        Just because you *want* the law to say something does not mean it does. It does not mention ‘studies’ at all. I quoted the *actual* law:

        e) A description of all known medical risks of the procedure and
        statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman
        would be subjected, including: (ii) Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;

        That’s not say ‘studies say it causes an increased risk’. Not say ‘the law says I am required to say it’s an increased risk’.

        The law was, *literally*, ‘you have to inform them of statistically significant risk factors, including that it is an increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide’. (And before you disagree, please compare that sentence to *the actual law*, and you will notice that they are almost the same.)

        Provide me with one rational reason why a person should care about GMOs.

        Food monoculture.

        Rahm Emanuel.

        …uh, a quick Google of that situation shows that Rahm Emanuel has *loosened* food truck regulations. Repeatedly. Since 2012. (Well, technically, he’s proposed loosening the rules, and the city council agreed.) Before him, food trucks weren’t allowed to cook food at all. He’s now put them *under* the same rules as restaurants. And he keeps adding licensed locations.

        So I basically have no idea what you’re talking about. I suppose, in theory, he could have cracked down on *unlicensed* locations while he was adding all those licensed ones…but, uh, that’s hardly being stricter on food trucks than restaurants. (I am fairly certain all brick and mortar restaurants are located at licensed locations and not parked illegally in the street.)

        The city of Washington DC is spending taxpayer money defending them right now.

        Yes, the city of Washington DC had 108 year old regulations about tour guides that no one had been fined under since 2005. (And, yes, locales generally spend money defending laws when sued over them.)

        A 108 year-old law that was barely enforced and just crumpled without anyone apparently appealing is not exactly an example of ‘the left’ defending it.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        @davidtc

        [My sweet Pookie Bear],

        Just because you *want* the law to say something does not mean it does. It does not mention ‘studies’ at all. I quoted the *actual* law:

        e) A description of all known medical risks of the procedure and
        statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman
        would be subjected, including: (ii) Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;

        That’s not say ‘studies say it causes an increased risk’. Not say ‘the law says I am required to say it’s an increased risk’.

        The law was, *literally*, ‘you have to inform them of statistically significant risk factors, including that it is an increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide’. (And before you disagree, please compare that sentence to *the actual law*, and you will notice that they are almost the same.)

        I read the law the first time you posted it, how would my statement not be in compliance with the law? It explains the statistical risk of increase suicide as the law requires.

        Food monoculture.

        [My sweet Pookie Bear], monoculture is different than GMOs, it possible to have GMOs without monoculture or monoculture without GMOs. If the concern is monoculture than pass a monoculture labeling requirement.

        uh, a quick Google of that situation shows that Rahm Emanuel has *loosened* food truck regulations. Repeatedly. Since 2012. (Well, technically, he’s proposed loosening the rules, and the city council agreed.) Before him, food trucks weren’t allowed to cook food at all. He’s now put them *under* the same rules as restaurants. And he keeps adding licensed locations.

        So I basically have no idea what you’re talking about. I suppose, in theory, he could have cracked down on *unlicensed* locations while he was adding all those licensed ones…but, uh, that’s hardly being stricter on food trucks than restaurants.

        As mayor he could refused to defend the law against legal challenges.

        Yes, the city of Washington DC had 108 year old regulations about tour guides that no one had been fined under since 2005. (And, yes, locales generally spend money defending laws when sued over them.)

        [My sweet Pookie Bear], they could have refused to defend the law in the same way that states haven’t defend challenges to gay marriage bans; the fact that they have defended it in court means that they think it is constitutional even if it is bad policy, unlike regulations on abortion.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        And food trucks aren’t subject to the same regulations as brick and mortar restaurants, there is a provision stating that no food truck can operate within 200 of a brick and mortar restaurant, this regulation serves no purpose other than protectionism and the Chicago City council, all democrats voted for it 44-1. you can’t claim the left doesn’t support these laws, if they were challenged in court the left would defend them shouting Lochner! Lochner! Lochner!Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        I read the law the first time you posted it, how would my statement not be in compliance with the law? It explains the statistical risk of increase suicide as the law requires.

        That is not what the law requires. The law does not say ‘explain the statistical risk of increase suicide’, and doctors do not conform to the law when they say ‘There is no actual increased risk’.

        The law *asserts* there is an increased risk and requires doctors to inform patients of that increased risk, and in fact describe that increased risk to them.

        You failed to describe an increased risk (In fact, you did the opposite, described a lack of increased risk), and hence would be in violation of the law.

        And food trucks aren’t subject to the same regulations as brick and mortar restaurants, there is a provision stating that no food truck can operate within 200 of a brick and mortar restaurant, this regulation serves no purpose other than protectionism and the Chicago City council, all democrats voted for it 44-1.

        Except that 200 foot rule been the rule forever. The Democrats didn’t invent it…at least not *those* Democrats.

        So what you’re actually complaining about is that Rahm Emanuel isn’t changing the law fast enough.

        As mayor he could refused to defend the law against legal challenges.

        That is not generally an ability of a mayor. According to Wikipedia, Chicago has a ‘weak-mayor’ system, which is a bit of joke that it’s called that because he does have a lot of power as he draws up the budget…but I rather suspect it’s the city council that would choose to not defend against lawsuits.

        Not that I have the slightest idea what this has to do with anything at all, or why we’re talking about idiotic food truck regulations, because you have it in your head that states regulating abortion, a constitutional right, out of existence is somehow the same thing as continuing what are basically zoning laws for food trucks.

        Obviously, such laws shouldn’t exist solely to give people a competitive advantage, but Chicago politics being corrupt is not the same as unconstitutional laws.

        they could have refused to defend the law in the same way that states haven’t defend challenges to gay marriage bans; the fact that they have defended it in court means that they think it is constitutional even if it is bad policy, unlike regulations on abortion.

        Yes, they did think a law regulating tour guides is constitutional. Because it *is*, as far as anyone knows. *Having a tour guide*, or having the right to practice as a tour guide, has not been declared any sort of a constitution right.

        However, they didn’t bother to appeal their defeat, because the law was stupid and pointless.Report

      • Avatar dand in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re making my point for me: my point was in regards to the constitutionality of regulations the left hypocritically has one standard for abortion and one for everything else. With regards abortion the left thinks that regulations should be put under strict scrutiny with regress to everything else state and local government should be given carte blanche; regulations no matter how stupid should never be review by the courts. The left only cares about burdensome regulations when it’s their ox being gored. I think that the court should apply the same level scrutiny for Chicago’s food truck regulations as they do for Texas’s abortion regulations; after all the constitutional says as much about food trucks as it does about abortion. I’m sick of left’s hypocrisy on this issue.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        @dand

        Some of us don’t find it outrageous that the Supreme Court determined that control over one’s own reproduction deserves greater protection against government intrusion than control over one’s good truck.

        Or perhaps we could rewrite Eisenstadt v. Baird, to discuss
        “the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child where to park a food truck.”Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m now tempted to call libertarians for being hypocrites (under dand’s logic) for saying the government *can’t* regulate what books you write, but then saying that the government *can* regulate people lurking in dark alleys waving knifes and saying ‘Your money or your life’. 😉

        Because all regulations are the same thing, apparently.

        And dand also thinks the government is operating under strict scrutiny for abortion. No, it’s ‘undue burden’. So even if we did hold that barring access to food trucks required the government not to impose an ‘undue burden’ on potential customers, I’m pretty sure ‘If you find yourself at exactly the wrong spot, you have to walk 200+ feet to get to a foot truck’ is not, legally, an ‘undue burden’.

        In a hypothetical universe where food service trucks were treated the same as abortion clinics, but the regulations were simply not allowed to impose an ‘undue burden’ on customers, we’d have *no* public parking areas for them, we’d have fifty times the regulation of any restaurants, we’d require customers to contact them two days before and have a waiting period before they could get their food, we’d make food trucks distribute forms for customers to sign forms saying they understand that eating from a food truck will give them the bubonic plague and AIDs, we’d make customers watch videos of their pigs and cows being slaughtered, we’d allow protesters to almost completely surround the food trucks as long as they left a path in…

        The idea that people have the right to buy food at a certain specific place without facing an ‘undue burden’ is dumb enough, but the idea that ‘You can only put the trucks at certain places’ is an ‘undue burden’ under the law is also completely insane. That’s not even vaguely in the same universe as ‘undue burden’.Report

  16. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Just to document some conservative position on GMO’s, I’ll start with the Mormons:

    LDS members and those purchasing dry-packed foods from the LDS Cannery can rest assured that they have access to the best food available. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed nearly all dry-packed foods available through the Cannery are certified as Non-GMO, meaning they have not been genetically modified.

    The increasesed use of genetically modified seeds throughout the U.S., and the world’s agriculural systems, has led to health concerns by consumers.

    Church Headquarters Welfare and Cannery Representative Joel Thompson says all dry-packed canned goods available through the Cannery, with the exception of rice and sugar, are grown in the U.S., and are GMO-free.

    source: http://livingsavvy.org/Articles/article_lds-cannery-non-gmo.htmlReport

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      The TX GOP Platform:

      It calls for mandatory labeling of GMO’s on food on page 25 while at the same time opposing all food safety laws on page 18.

      Source: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2014/06/what-the-texas-gop-platform-says-about-the-party/Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      A survey of citizens:

      There’s also a political difference. Republicans divide evenly on whether genetically modified foods are safe or unsafe. Independents rate them unsafe by a 20-point margin; Democrats, by a 26-point margin.

      source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97567Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      This is timely, coming after Trizzlor’s link to survey data, after you already mentioned the Christian right, after David TC and Chris both mentioned anti-GMOers on the right, after I admitted maybe I need to get out more, and before you admit I didn’t say “deliberate.”Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley
        after David TC and Chris both mentioned anti-GMOers on the right,

        I’m wondering if anyone has an ‘Irrational Wiki’, (To go along with Rational Wiki.), which catalogs all the nonsense people believe, and exactly what groups of people believe it.

        I mean, I’ll easily believe that the anti-GMO stuff is more found on the left (Just not here because the left is rather thin on the ground and the only real left people here tend to be rather thoughtful.), simply because it matches up well with the left’s distrust of big business. Although I used to think the same thing with anti-vaxers, but that idea has been rather completely disproved, and they’re basically even spread between parties. So who knows.(1)

        I think at some point we really need to stop pretending that fringe political groups are positions of ‘the right’ or ‘the left’. Even if the parties sometimes pander to them.

        Because, well, if we start talking about irrational fringe groups that have latched on to a political party, and a political party sometimes panders to…I think the right might want to change the subject really really quickly. *cough*whitesupremacists*cough*

        1) Here’s an idea: If something is supposedly a crazy left fringe political idea, but it is *not* being mocked on Fox News, it’s because the idea has more Republican believers than people think. When was the last time Fox News went after anti-GMO people? Checking their web site (Which is not really the same thing as their TV channel, but whatever.), they seem to be *slightly* pro-GMO, but they’re always very careful in how they phrase it, and how they emphasize with people’s worries about it.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      The Christian view from the GMO industry:

      Christian theologians and scholars find themselves conflicted on the issue of GMOs. Not surprisingly because one of the tenets of Christianity is to help those in need and to feed the hungry. However, certain of the Church’s Social Teachings, found in scripture, in theological reflection, in ecclesiastic documents and in the witness of individuals and communities, stress respect for human rights and respect for the environment. Because there are unknown risks with GMOs with respect to health and the environment, and because there are many other considerations such as corporate ownership and control of the GM seeds that many say will enslave poor farmers to the GM companies, many Christian theologians either advocate following a precautionary principle or reject the use of GMOs entirely.

      source: http://gmo-journal.com/2009/08/01/gm-foods-the-christian-perspective/Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      Finally, I leave you with the words of Libertarian Farmer Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm and author of many books, several in my library. He debated alternative-health guru Dr. Joe Mercator, at a recent event sponsored by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund event. Salatin is an organic farmer, he was featured in The Omnivore’s Delimma, and refuses to grow GMO crops. But he’s also against “need to know” labeling:

      The consumer has no right to know. The founders of our great nation offered the right to pursue happiness. The right to seek is distinctly different than an entitlement. We turned pursuit into entitlement, and that cheapens inalienable rights bestowed by God, not governments….

      I would suggest that this knowledge-entitlement idea led to prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay. Right to know coerces. Right to seek liberates.

      That we the people should depend on the federal government for our knowledge on the morsels our bureaucratic caretakers dispense is profoundly un-American, disempowering, and childish.

      The author, Rady Ananda of Activist Post (source below; I have know notion of Ananda’s politics) where I pulled Salatin’s quote from (the video’s on youtube), says,

      But, Salatin’s “Just Say No” to GMOs advice reveals a level of myopia only wealth can breed. “Food deserts” describe the utter lack of choice for most urbanites in crowded cities where organic simply isn’t stocked. Like a flea on the trunk of an elephant, a strictly bucolic view of the food system fails to perceive what it’s like to be an urbanite who is forced to eat the crap sold at the corner store, or at the local fast-food joint when you have only a 30-minute work break and no way to chill or secure a lunchbox.

      source: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/11/a-libertarian-farmers-take-on-gmo-labels.html

      Now I’m a big fan of Salatin, though I have some reservations; having farmed cattle, I’ve seen learning curve that suggests he’s overly-confident in his views prematurely, though he has the courage to self-correct. I’d like to see farm-to-table relationships established in the city, it’s a great harm to live so divorced from life cycles, and this happens to a lot of people in the city.

      Food trucks. Farmer’s trucks. Urban gardens. Urban chickens. Bring ’em on, build a bridge between Salatin’s farm and Harlem.

      I think farmer’s should be able to sell raw milk and raw-milk cheese, and unwashed eggs, the best way to protect the stuff inside the shell from disease. But these are informed consumer purchases, with safety handling guidelines involved, not grab-and-go purchases with infinite shelf life.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        tagging nightmare here, I’m sorry, weather moving in again. If some will repair, I’d be very thankful.

        Perhaps I’ll write a post on Saletin and the right’s food movement; it’s merited, because there’s some serious foody going on over there. Serious.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        While you’re doing all this reading, @zic, maybe you could read my post and tell me where I said the left was “deliberately” killing people? Or are you just going to stand by that, and let what could have passed as an error look more and more like a deliberate lie?Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        Surprised to see you bring this back up. You say the left deliberately prevents GMO crops from coming to market in third world countries and that those GMO crops could save huge numbers of lives.

        Explain why that is different from saying the left deliberately kills people.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        nevermoor,

        The anti-GMO crowd’s* intention is not to kill, and as several commenters here have shown, they favor a different means of providing vitamin A rich foods. So I would say they’re killing through misguidedness, not deliberately. Like an anti-vaccer parent whose kid dies of measles wasn’t deliberately trying to kill their kid.

        ___________________
        *I think it’s become clear they’re not just the left, so I won’t repeat my error.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley Two things:

        1. Sorry if going back to “the left” came off as mean-spiritied. Totally happy to use the “anti-GMO” grouping, which I agree is a better fit.

        2. I think the latter is being over-generous to the Anti-GMO crowd. I may be polluted by my profession, but I think criminal law has this one right. If you intend to pull the trigger, and then someone dies, you’ve intentionally killed them. Even if you pulled the trigger with a different end-goal.

        So as a pro-choice person, whose side has had success protecting the right to abortions, I think I am fairly tarred with deliberately killing X fetuses (leaving aside semantic arguments about whether “killing” and “fetuses” are the right words). Similarly, as a pro-death penalty person I am fairly tarred with deliberately killing X innocent inmates. And it doesn’t stop there. I think states that refused the medicare expansion are fairly tarred with deliberately killing X people too.

        Obviously the values of X are debatable in each case, as they are on the GMO issue. But beliefs have real-world consequences, and I don’t think we can hide from them by saying that our INTENTION in having the belief isn’t a desire for those consequences.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @nevermoor

        1. Sorry if going back to “the left” came off as mean-spiritied.

        Oh, no, I didn’t take it that way at all. No worries there.

        2. I think the latter is being over-generous to the Anti-GMO crowd. I may be polluted by my profession, but I think criminal law has this one right. If you intend to pull the trigger, and then someone dies, you’ve intentionally killed them. Even if you pulled the trigger with a different end-goal.

        I did almost use the term manslaughter a couple of times, or criminal negligence. Not that I actually think their actions violate the law, but just as an analogy.Report

  17. Avatar Citizen
    Ignored
    says:

    Do we know the end equation of harm over time as applied to direct transfers of DNA?Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Citizen
      Ignored
      says:

      Do we know the end equation of harm over time as applied to direct transfers of DNA?

      You’re going to need to flesh out that question a bit more.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        We typically approach a solution at a given time with a initial measure of harm at the time of deployment.

        There is little evidence to show that harm will stay within its initial estimate as time scales increase.

        Considering alone the difficulty we have controlling disease vectors in unmixed species, how well will we be able to control disease in cross species formats? What does that open us up to? The fun thing about nature is that often harm shows in the form of exponential functions.

        Making assumptions that harm will not shift in complex systems looks slightly insane from where I’m sitting.

        Hell at any given time we are probably only a few DNA strands away from being food for big cats.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Citizen,
        smart cats are easier than big uns.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        If we can’t do things because we can’t assess the future risk, then we can’t really do anything.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        What if we can calculate the future risk?
        How much of a price are you willing to pay for people’s lives?
        God, that’s a hard question to answer.

        What’s your threshold then — at what percent chance of “destroy all life on earth” (or make it just humanoid if you’d prefer)– do you say “stop the world, I wanna get off”?Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Aren’t there already defined solutions that push less risk into complex systems?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Citizen,

        I’m listening.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        We typically approach a solution at a given time with a initial measure of harm at the time of deployment.

        Yes.

        There is little evidence to show that harm will stay within its initial estimate as time scales increase.

        Um, for what sorts of harm estimates?

        This is an enormous problem domain, and many harm estimates are accurate in one problem space and not in another. There’s a difference between harm estimates for a medical intervention, a genetic manipulation, a change in engineering design, etc. etc.

        If you’re talking about medical treatments specifically, for example, it’s true that harm estimates usually increase as time scales increase, but this isn’t necessarily even a problem if the benefit increase is already, yanno, a couple of orders of magnitude better than the harm estimate.

        Considering alone the difficulty we have controlling disease vectors in unmixed species, how well will we be able to control disease in cross species formats?

        That… depends on the disease, and the likelihood that whatever genetic manipulation you do renders some species more susceptible to disease than it was previously, and the way you plant your crops. A monoculture of pretty natural potatoes failed miserably and somewhat spectacularly back in 1840.

        Has that happened since then, to that degree, in the Western world?

        Most major crop failures that I can think of off the top of my head predate 1990, and virtually none of them took place in the West, and of those that took place in the West, the bad ones weren’t disease vectors but parasite or predation issues (i.e., Medflies, bark beetles, etc), and they pretty much resulted in higher prices for

        The fun thing about nature is that often harm shows in the form of exponential functions.

        This usually is environmental, not genetic, though. The dodo couldn’t adapt, and it died off very quickly, but it wasn’t like that was a mysterious die-off. Can you name an exponential harm function in nature that has affected humanity in the West since the Spanish flu?

        Can you think of one that was related to agriculture?

        And if you switched your entire crop of rice to Golden Rice (which you wouldn’t, but let’s assume for the moment that you did, in the U.S.) and your genetic manipulation had an unforeseen vulnerability to something and the entire crop failed, it’s not like pre-Golden Rice rice no longer exists, and it’s also not like we don’t already make enough wheat and corn to get us through the year of rice failure.

        Hell at any given time we are probably only a few DNA strands away from being food for big cats.

        I tried to parse this a couple dozen times and I didn’t get anywhere.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Nopales, dandelions, sow thistle all have significant quantities of Vitamin A. Kale and turnip greens if the environment allows it.

        The African farmer I met a few months ago was keen on pigoen peas. Damn things have very little vitamin A, why not selective breed them to at least match sweet peas?

        I wonder if there is a growing national trend to not use pot herbs. Even cowpeas when cooked with their leaves boost A and C.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Are you seriously suggesting that we know the future risk of imported species?Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Not a very compelling stance Patrick.

        “Can you think of one that was related to agriculture?”

        SuperweedsReport

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Which one is imported?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Not all of those plants you listed are native to both Africa and Asia, right?Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Superweeds

        They’ve done such a wonderful job of collapsing the worldwide agribusiness sector.

        I mean, look, yields are down, like, practically nowhere!

        U.S. corn production is up by almost 40% since 2003! World wheat production was down this year, but at over 700 million tons was still the second largest year on record. 729 million tons of rice in 2012.

        Since 1993, the U.S. and the EU have gotten rid of both organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. I call that a win.

        If you want to get rid of most of the other really dangerous crap we spray on our crops, without cratering yield, what’s the most viable option?

        Genetically modified, insect-resistant crops.

        And even *if* genetically modified, insect-resistant crops showed a harm increase over actual-organic-not-labeled-but-not-really-organic crops (which, barring a credible mechanism, seems unlikely)…

        … that harm would still have to be bigger than the secondary exposure harm caused by having all those pesticides in our water supply and air, which affects not only us peeps but also the wee beasties, wild flora and fauna, and critters in the ocean.

        Which is also of a much greater duration, as crop runoff stays in the ecosystem for years, whereas some GMO wheat variety that increased colon cancer incidents by a measurable amount could just be discontinued the next year.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        “Are you seriously suggesting that we know the future risk of imported species?”

        Why might have some data points on organisms we have lived with for 30,000 years as opposed to something that was spliced together a week ago.

        But hell with it……. all in on red 7 and give it a spin.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Eh, no, we don’t have any data points on any particular new species being introduced into a brand new environment.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        And, by the way, these GMO plants we’re talking about are less foreign to the environments in which they’re being used–or proposed to be used–than would be the plants you’re talking about.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        “They’ve done such a wonderful job of collapsing the worldwide agribusiness sector.

        I mean, look, yields are down, like, practically nowhere! ”

        The uptick I would look for is in price per bushel, more weeds, more tillage, more diesel more cost. But we all knew GMO crops would have this extra superweed cost 20 years ago eh? Who knew.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley “And, by the way, these GMO plants we’re talking about are less foreign to the environments in which they’re being used–or proposed to be used–than would be the plants you’re talking about.”

        This is arguable, because the GMO plants are not clearly interchangeable with their conventionally-bred parents. But even granting your point here, it’s easy to rehabilitate Citizen’s argument by highlighting native plants that are high in Vitamin A, as I’ve done elsewhere in the comments.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Damn it,I meant COST per bushel.

        Alright fellas you made a strong case, but I am still not convinced. GMO for me is a unpredictable genie that may not easily be put back in a bottle.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @Patrick

        Your statistics on grain production are highly misleading. The main reason total corn yields are up is because we’ve devoted more farmland to corn. This explains about 50% of the increase since 2003.

        The remaining 50% of the increase isn’t necessarily worth celebrating, either. As yields increase, the nutritional quality of the product reliably declines. Modern varieties of grains have been selected for the size of their starchy endosperms, while the relative sizes of the mineral-, vitamin-, and phytonutrient-rich bran and germ have declined. There is a clear negative relationship between wheat yield and protein content. Furthermore, because many essential nutrients are disproportionately found in the bran and germ — including the nutrients that prevent rickets, pellagra, and beriberi — selecting for high-yield, low-bran-and-germ varieties is leading to deficits in the nutritional content of our grains. The increases in corn yields since the ’60s are almost entirely attributable to increased sugar content in the corn. Meanwhile, the total amount of actual nutrition in corn per acre hasn’t increased since then, and our farmlands demand more fertilizers (some of which are in danger of becoming imminently scarce), and have become much more ecologically precarious.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @robert-greer is correct that corn stats are misleading; overall production is up, spurred by ethanol production. But available food supplies are down, and there have been shortages and price inflation in Central American countries where masa is the staple carb.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
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        says:

        Robert,

        These GMOs are not wild-assed “frankenfoods” cobbled out of many bits and pieces of different vegetables. They’re suppressing or adding single-genes. The vitamin-A enriched banana just has a gene transplanted from one type of banana into another type.

        As to your comment about yields v. nutrition, I’m going to have to look that up. At a glance, though, it could be read as denying the green revolution. You’re not going that far, are you?Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        Gene-splicing of any kind is cause enough for worry. Why isn’t it possible for the two banana varieties to be bred together? The fact that we’re resorting to smuggling in the Vitamin A gene into palatable varieties shows that there’s some kind of incommensurability between the varieties in the first place. Random genetic mutations and cross-pollinations tend to rearrange genes along certain points, while artificial gene transfers ignore these established channels. Artificial genetic modification trulyhas all the relevant features of playing Dr. Frankenstein.

        Genes are not lines of computer code that can be switched at will with predictable consequences. They are embedded in loci, which in turn can effect how the organism functions in unpredictable ways. Even “organisms” are more than their genetic code — the human body would simply not be able to function without the trillions of microorganisms that live inside our bodies, helping us break down fiber, convert unusable nutrients into usable ones, etc. The scientistic gene-centric viewpoint underlying the push for GMOs inherently denies all this interconnectedness of the natural world. It’s perfectly sensible to suspect that this philosophical impoverishment would reliably lead to danger.

        I think you’d have to be crazy to not at least put a giant asterisk by the alleged success of the Green Revolution. Yes, yields have gone up. But so have diseases of civilization that are linked to poor nutrition. Since the 1960s, we’ve been growing corn that’s high-yield, sure — but it’s only high-yield because it’s high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates. Also since the 1960s, we’ve seen an epidemic of diabetes, which endocrinologists think is linked to the consumption of fiberless sugars and unadulterated starches. Can you prove that that’s a coincidence? I sure can’t.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @robert-greer

        First, in reference to yields v. nutrition. That’s got nothing in particular to do with GMOs, so that’s a red herring. It’s disturbing, to be sure, but we’re not going to feed 7-12 billion people with organic small crop farming, so that’s a non-starter of an argument.

        Gene-splicing of any kind is cause enough for worry.

        No. Simply, no.

        Why isn’t it possible for the two banana varieties to be bred together?

        Selective interbreeding is also a way to genetically modify organisms. There’s nothing to show that gene splicing is inherently riskier.

        The fact that we’re resorting to smuggling in the Vitamin A gene

        Loaded language.

        into palatable varieties shows that there’s some kind of incommensurability between the varieties in the first place.

        No, and no. First, it may just be a more efficient technique. Instead of cross-breeding varieties over generations to genetically modify them, waiting until you get the right outcome and then hoping you’re able to replicate it successfully, you just target the particular genes you want. Second, even if the two varieties could not successfully cross-breed through traditional means, that type of incommensurability doesn’t tell us anything about whether it’s safe to cross them.

        Random genetic mutations and cross-pollinations tend to rearrange genes along certain points, while artificial gene transfers ignore these established channels. Artificial genetic modification trulyhas all the relevant features of playing Dr. Frankenstein.

        Pseudoscience. Along with the next paragraph you’re stringing together bits of information you’ve found without really having much understanding of them. They just sound scary all strung together like that. Not that I’m a geneticist, either, but when laypeople start trying to scare me with vague science talk that ignores the overwhelming number of studies contradicting their fears, I’m skeptical about everything they say on the topic.

        I think you’d have to be crazy to not at least put a giant asterisk by the alleged success of the Green Revolution. Yes, yields have gone up. But so have diseases of civilization that are linked to poor nutrition.

        Diseases endemic to malnutrition have gone down.

        Since the 1960s, we’ve been growing corn that’s high-yield, sure — but it’s only high-yield because it’s high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates. Also since the 1960s, we’ve seen an epidemic of diabetes, which endocrinologists think is linked to the consumption of fiberless sugars and unadulterated starches. Can you prove that that’s a coincidence? I sure can’t.

        Growing higher sugar corn doesn’t mean people have to indulge in sweets to excess. I don’t doubt there’s a connection, but it’s not an inevitable one that must always be the case. If there’s a learning curve, well, there’s always a learning curve.

        I hate to say this Robert, because I think you’re a good guy, and no less intelligent than I am, but I think this anti-GMO approach isn’t a whole lot different than the anti-vaxxers, or the people who take all kinds of herbal supplements because they don’t trust big pharma and think anything natural must be good.

        As to your question up above, which I missed until now, about why don’t they eat yams, oranges, etc. Nobody’s arguing against them eating those things. Scientists are just trying to offer more alternatives, to increase the chances they’ll be eating something higher in vitamin A. You and the anti-GMO crowd are the ones trying to limit their range of access to foods.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Patrick
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        says:

        Yields and nutrition absolutely are related to GMOs. Crops that are genetically modified to have higher yields can be expected to have lower mineral contents, as have their conventionally-modified forebears, because of “dilution effects” that are well-theorized and empirically supported in the agriculture literature.

        Diseases endemic to malnutrition have not gone down, they’ve just changed form. We used to have pellagra epidemics (brought about by corn monoculture), now we have a diabetes epidemic (brought about in part by sweeter high-yield corn).

        I’m not trying to limit anyone’s access to anything. If scientists want to create GMO products and grown them on their own land, they can knock themselves out. But I don’t see why I shouldn’t support people who have every reason to distrust the highly-questionable products that are being so assiduously pushed on them by the same business interests and their government cheerleaders that have routinely fucked them over. Fool me once… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKgPY1adc0AReport

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Are there changes in water demands for the spliced banana as compared to its unspliced condition? Does the splice leave it vulnerable to drought die offs?Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Found this:
        http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060002198

        super banana 2.0 appears to require more splicingReport

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @robert-greer @james-hanley

        I’m not trying to limit anyone’s access to anything. If scientists want to create GMO products and grown them on their own land, they can knock themselves out. But I don’t see why I shouldn’t support people who have every reason to distrust the highly-questionable products that are being so assiduously pushed on them by the same business interests and their government cheerleaders that have routinely fucked them over. Fool me once…

        I am glad to have any conversation about issues with the foods that the American public is consuming. However, speaking as a health and fitness junkie, bringing GMOs into the conversation as anything more than a tertiary issue is, to me, misplaced priorities.

        True story – I’m in a Starbucks and I overhear two young-in’s talking about the dangers of GMOs, health risks, nutrition, blah blah blah. Both of them are consuming those huge-size mocha-fat-a-nasty-chino drinks that probably have more fat grams than a Big Mac and more sugar than a 20 oz bottle of Coke. Yet, our health risks come from genetically modified crops. I couldn’t help but laugh.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        Yields and nutrition absolutely are related to GMOs. Crops that are genetically modified to have higher yields …

        I’m talking about Golden Rice and vitamin A enriched bananas, not crops genetically modified to have higher yields.

        I’m not trying to limit anyone’s access to anything. If scientists want to create GMO products and grown them on their own land, they can knock themselves out.

        And what about people who want to grow those commercially? Are you going to stop that?

        But I don’t see why I shouldn’t support people who have every reason to distrust the highly-questionable products that are being so assiduously pushed on them by the same business interests and their government cheerleaders that have routinely fucked them over.

        Gahhh. Nobody’s pushing anything on anyone. They’re offering them another alternative.

        Your tone throughout is very revealing. You keep slipping in words that treat the whole idea like a conspiracy theory.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        James, you should be aware that the idea that genes are more likely to mutate along certain channels is about as well-established as anything else in modern genetics.

        “Base analogs such as 5-bromouracil and 2-aminopurine can be incorporated into DNA and are even more likely than normal nucleic acid bases to form transient tautomers that lead to transition mutations. 5-Bromouracil, an analog of thymine, normally pairs with adenine. However, the proportion of 5-bromouracil in the enol tautomer is higher than that of thymine because the bromine atom is more electronegative than is a methyl group on the C-5 atom. Thus, the incorporation of 5-bromouracil is especially likely to cause altered base-pairing in a subsequent round of DNA replication.”

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22525/

        It’s pretty unseemly of you to label my posts as “pseudoscience” when you’ve already made at least two clear errors of science in this thread.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t argue that, Robert. I argued that it’s not a reason to assume harm. You’re extrapolating without showing any evidence for such. What is noticeably missing from your comments is a link to peer reviewed research establishing health problems caused by gene splicing. Meanwhile, a comprehensive reviewof ten years of studies found “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops;”

        And with that, I think we’ve both established our positions. I’ll leave the final word to you if you’d like to take the opportunity.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Patrick
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        Hi James, if you’re not a geneticist, then what basis do you have for dismissing as “cranks” the many prominent geneticists and who oppose or are wary of GMOs? How can you know that your cocksure confidence about genetic science in this regard isn’t of a piece with your erroneous belief that bananas are botanically more similar to oranges than to rice? I’m really trying to understand your inner thought process here, but if you’d rather not respond I guess I could see why.

        Anyway, the Nicolia study you’ve cited has many problems, which are documented in depth in the following article (starting at page 102): http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/GMO_Myths_and_Truths/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.3.pdf. Also see page 128 for a discussion of the adverse health effects that have been associated with consumption of GM foods.Report

  18. Avatar M. Martinez
    Ignored
    says:

    As if Africans forgot how to feed themselves or were never capable of it in the first place, and need white men to genetically engineer super bananas for them to “save their lives.” Get real!

    Globalization is corporate-financier imperialism. Period. And it is what causes the disparity, conflict, and destitution that is starving people in the third world in the first place. We don’t need super bananas to survive, why do Africans? How about we stop trying to pilfer their natural resources by starting unending proxy wars to keep them all weak and divided, and let them regrow their gardens and feed themselves?

    GMO technology in and of itself is not a bad thing. What corporate-fascists are doing with it is.

    By the way, the “left” is funny since the author of that anti-GMO article is DEFINITELY not left. If you are so utterly wrong about their political views, something you could have figured out in 5 minutes, how wrong are you about saving the world with patented corporate fascist GMO “super gruel?”Report

  19. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
    Ignored
    says:

    Leaving these here, because I’m too swamped to comment properly:

    PopSci & GMOs

    The Golden Rice Project

    @robert-greer @james-hanley

    Why rice? Aside from the cultural aspect of it as a staple crop, and it’s ability to survive long term storage, you should also consider the following (apologies if this is stated elsewhere):

    -Yield (how much rice do you get per acre vs. Mangoes/Melons/Squash/Tubers)
    -Local climate; since we can not assume importing food is feasible (economic & political instabilities may abound such that even if a ship laden with fruits & veggies could dock, the food would likely spoil before it could leave the shipyard), it’s easier to import seeds into the area. How well do the various suggested crops grow in the area where the afflicted populations live? If the poor live in lowlands that flood often, rice is a good crop the poor can grow. Other crops would be destroyed. Again, if the area is economically &/or politically unstable, logistics & markets may be such that land suitable for growing these alternatives is too far removed to be useful.
    -Time to production; how long does it take for a mango tree to bear fruit? Rice is ready in 112 days.

    Finally, don’t act as if Golden Rice or other such foods were dreamt up by naive scientists who were just messing around in the lab one day. These are people who have identified a problem, consulted with experts in the region & in mitigating food & nutrition shortages, ag experts, political science minds, etc. If other fruits & vegetables were feasible & effective, they would have been chosen. This wasn’t some idealist whimsy.Report

    • Avatar M. Martinez in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
      Ignored
      says:

      Again, why do these nations need GMO super gruel in the first place? The West gets a balanced diet (or at least access to it – they choose to eat garbage voluntarily) why shouldn’t investment be made to ensure these developing nations get a balanced diet too?

      In many ways globalization is driving lower wages, conflict, and destitution, and the way you seek to fix it is not stopping the exploitation, but getting them hooked on your patented GMO garbage? You are leaving links from Popular Science and Golden Rice? Why not a Monsanto press release while you’re at it?

      The immense intellectual dishonesty surrounding GMO poison made by corporate monopolies (GMO in and of itself is not bad) including paying off bloggers to write favorably about it as well as commenting trolls to plant “PopSci” articles they paid lots for, only undermines USEFUL and BENEFICIAL uses of biotech for humanity.

      If you truly cared about this technology, you would expose its abuse as much as you would attempt to address unfounded fears. Right now, for people to fear this technology as imagined by corporate monopolies like Monsanto, Bayer, and Syngenta, is very rational indeed. Stop making this an issue of Pro/Anti Biotech. That is not the argument. Biotech is a tool and like any tool can either be used for good or used for bad. Right now it is being used for profit over people with “Golden Rice” and “Super Bananas for Africa” the insulting PR stunts serving as a smokescreen – THAT’S what people are protesting!Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        why shouldn’t investment be made to ensure these developing nations get a balanced diet too?

        Because doing that would require either a single world government everyone respected, or a disturbing amount of military force in order to make it happen. I was on the ground in Somalia when it all went to hell. No amount of guns and tanks & helicopters could get the food to where it needed to be & keep it there long enough to help.

        The rest of your comment is drivel not worth responding to.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        The immense intellectual dishonesty surrounding GMO poison made by corporate monopolies (GMO in and of itself is not bad) including paying off bloggers to write favorably about it…

        Goddamn it, there were checks? I didn’t get mine.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        @patrick

        You didn’t write a post, you just commented. I’d share my big ol’ check with you, but FYIGM!Report

      • Avatar M. Martinez in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        The juvenile dismissal of valid arguments shows how disingenuous you are about the truth. This is the behavior of the religious and the paid.

        If you can distribute GMO super gruel to feed the poor, you can distribute resources to help them feed themselves so your …

        “Because doing that would require either a single world government everyone respected, or a disturbing amount of military force in order to make it happen. I was on the ground in Somalia when it all went to hell. No amount of guns and tanks & helicopters could get the food to where it needed to be & keep it there long enough to help…”

        Is at face value invalid. Here is another novel idea, stop fueling the conflicts that are causing these problems in the first place. If they can’t grow traditional food because of security issues, how are they growing your GMO super gruel? Or will you have corporate-owned mega plantations defended by Blackwater mercenaries as well? Wow! What a lovely future the Fortune 500 have in store for us! We should all just unquestionably accept it – just like religion.

        As for your “The rest of your comment is drivel not worth responding to…” nice intellectual cop-out. Intellectual cowardice is the bane of human progress.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        Yep, I run in intellectual terror from your tortured use of logic & language.

        One does not engage the Shoggoth if one wishes to remain sane.Report

      • Avatar M. Martinez in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        Why even bother responding “Mad Rocket” if you are just going to hide from debating?

        You made an invalid point – claiming there is no way to send these people aid or even allow them to grow their own food, but yet you sit here promoting GMO super bananas for them? How are we sending them GMO super bananas if we can’t send them any other form of aid?

        You won’t clarify that because you wish to remain “sane?” Or wish to dress up your intellectual dishonesty and continue promoting this mega-corporate fraud?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        @m-martinez

        Read below my responses to Mr. Greer, who is actually debating in a sane & rational manner.

        Unlike you.Report

      • Avatar M. Martinez in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s a simple question “Mad Rocket,” but a question you’d rather sidestep because you have no honest answer for it. You’d rather endless argue ambiguous statistics rather than get to the basic heart of the issue.

        Here is the question again… If aid right now cannot be given to these starving people because of security issues, and they are unable to grow their own food (because of security issues), how will it be possible to supply them with GMO super gruel to either eat or grow themselves???

        By the way, this isn’t even how the corporate monopolies plan on using it. Their bright idea is to have people grow this in places like Asia where poverty, not security is the issue. The only problem with this idea is that people who grow rice do so to sell it. No one will buy GMO rice – so what are they going to do? Grow two separate species? No, they grow species that are in demand and they keep a portion of their harvest for themselves.

        So you want to give these people rice they can’t sell and may potentially contaminate genetically the rice they CAN sell? Sounds like a trojan horse to open the door to GMO crops in such a way it can’t be closed again. Once Golden Rice spreads everywhere and organic rice is tainted, people will have no choice but to accept it and other GMO concoctions. Hardly altruistic, but insidiously, criminally insane.

        How about teaching people how to grow a garden? Wouldn’t that solve vitamin A deficiency as well as a whole host of other deficiencies? Or are the great altruists at Syngenta, Monsanto, and the CIA, opps, I meant USAID, planning on one GMO crop for each deficiency to really milk dry taxpayer-funded government grants to proliferate it and their GMO business models?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to M. Martinez
        Ignored
        says:

        Martinez,
        you’re about as bad as James is.
        the pope just endorsed golden rice, which kinda means something if your market is the Phillipines. Try getting thousands of priests to proselytize, and watch the product fly off the shelves. It’s good for you!Report

    • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
      Ignored
      says:

      @mad-rocket-scientist

      A good crop of rice yields about 7,000 pounds an acre, while a good crop of mangoes on the same amount of land produces about 30,000 pounds. Oranges are about 40,000 pounds an acre, as are watermelons. Granted, rice has twice as many calories per unit weight as mangoes and oranges, but rice would still have to be twice as productive to get as many calories as the fruit from the same amount of land. (Watermelons produce about as many calories per acre as rice.) And mangoes and oranges and watermelons have more non-calorie nutrients. Fruit trees require far less fertilizer inputs and irrigation than grain crops, do not degrade soils, and have negative instead of positive carbon footprints.

      These fruits are also native to the regions where Vitamin A deficiency is most prevalent. Mangoes are native to India, oranges to Southeast Asia, and watermelons to sub-Saharan West Africa. (Canteloupes, another good source of Vitamin A, are native to East Africa.)

      Of course, one can’t necessarily grow mangoes on land suited better to rice paddies, and vice versa. But first, relying on land that’s ideal for rice makes people more likely to move to flood-prone areas, and second, a lot of the areas under rice irrigation have been terraformed to work better for rice in the first place, suggesting that the areas are not necessarily inherently suited to rice production in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Robert Greer
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        says:

        @robert-greer

        Fair enough (& thanks for looking all that up!), and all well & good, but you still have the issue of establishing orchards, securing those orchards against destruction, time to harvest from seed/planting to fruiting, etc. Long term, in a stable region, fruit trees is obviously the ideal (& delicious!) way to go. But orchards are a long term investment that requires a very stable economic & political climate.

        Rice paddies are easy & quick.

        Remember, if things were stable in these areas, we probably would not be having trouble with nutritional deficiencies.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        Grrr, I forgot to address Melons.

        Yes, nutritionally a better option. Cultivation is also easy & quick.

        Storage & transport, on the other hand, make them sub-optimal. A 50 lb bag of rice is easier to move around than a 50 lbs sack of watermelons, and if I drop the sack of rice on the ground, or a bunch of bananas, I just pick it up. Melons… probably not.

        I’m not trying to say you are wrong Robert, I’m really not. Everything you say has merit to it, but that doesn’t mean those options are necessarily the most flexible & feasible ones in the given areas (my wife used to work with the UNHCR, so these kinds of discussions happened a lot at the time).

        The rice is not a perfect solution, but it’s probably one of the best options available. I mean, if the choice is imperfect rice, or blindness & death, I say lets go with rice while we work on stability & better options.

        If I was in that situation, I’d feed it to my kid, at least until I could do better.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Robert Greer
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        says:

        @robert-greer

        I think we really need to look at caloric yield rather than crop yield. Not only is rice more calorie dense than most fruits, but a 50 lb. bag of rice has practically no rice while a 50 lb. bag of most fruits and veggies have waste in the form of pits, seeds, skins, and other inedible or unpalatable parts.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Robert Greer
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        says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        Isn’t grain production associated with stable political cultures? That’s an explanation often proffered in development and democratic theory circles. At any rate, grains sure do seem to go hand in hand with large states and standing armies.

        Fruit trees may not be associated with stable property rights regimes, but it could be that that’s just a problem with stable property rights regimes. Government regulations tend to distort decisionmaking and lead to suboptimal results, and stable property rights (i.e., those guaranteed by centralized, usually state actors) are a form of regulation. Often, people eat a lot of grains because their ancestors were dispossessed of commons and pseudo-commons where wild fruit or vegetable patches were traditionally grown, and the cultural knowledge of the importance of these crops has been lost.

        Creating a strain of grains that has some Vitamin A of questionable bioavailability could thus be seen as a mere band-aid on a more fundamental problem. If we go the GMO route, we’d have to keep engineering and disseminating grains for other vitamins and minerals. By the time we stitch together grains that have enough Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and phytonutrients to compare to fresh fruits, we could have planted several generations of superior-producing mango orchards.

        But even as it stands, community gardening of Vitamin A-rich produce has worked like a charm where it’s been tried, even in the very poorest regions. The issue really does seem to be one of education, not of limited physical resources. Although this solution wouldn’t be available everywhere, it would work in the vast majority of areas where Vitamin-A-deficient people live, and so this practice largely obviates your transportability concerns.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        @kazzy

        I addressed the caloric issue up-thread. Even accounting for inedible parts, fruits can get more caloric bang for the buck than grains. (And remember that what is considered “edible” is often a matter of culture: watermelon rinds are pickled delicacy in many places outside the U.S., squash seeds are a large source of protein and good fats in Central America, etc.) And fruits typically contain far more nutrition than grains: You’d have to eat several pounds of golden rice to get as much Vitamin A as in one cup of butternut squash — and that’s assuming that the golden rice actually provides what we need, which is as yet still unproven.

        But focusing on calories alone is scientistic, because the nutritive quality of a food depends on many non-calorie factors. If you created a measure that accounted for phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and satiety, fruit would undoubtedly far outstrip the grain. Also, fruit doesn’t require precious energy to be rendered edible.

        The bottom line is, growing fruit has a ton of benefits, and we need to really examine why people don’t do it more.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        @robert-greer

        I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. An ideal diet is diverse and varied. However, we may have to take iterative steps before we start thinking about the ideal. We need to address dying and malnutrition now. I don’t think yellow rice is the ideal long term strategy. But we should utilize it or other steps now to stop kids from dying while we figure out why fruit and vegetable crops aren’t being utilized more and how to change that.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        growing fruit has a ton of benefits, and we need to really examine why people don’t do it more.

        Good, then let’s do that, too. This does not have to be an either/or thing. And on the off chance that folks in Asia don’t take to squash real quickly, maybe we could have something else that’s more to their taste?

        Because, intentionally or not, you’re setting up a scenario where they’ll be punished by continuing vitamin A deficiency unless they agree to do things the way you prefer them to do it.Report

      • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to Robert Greer
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        says:

        @james-hanley @kazzy

        I’m totally fine with giving people the option of growing golden rice or growing traditional crops, as long as people are informed about the potential risks and benefits of both. Personally, I think it’s a better idea to go with crops that people have been eating for thousands of years and whose nutritive effects on the human body are better-studied (both formally and informally) and more certain, rather than an untested chimera of a crop featuring dubious nutritional quality and unknown risks. But if informed people come to a different conclusion I’m not going to stand in their way.

        You guys seem to be misunderstanding my position. I’ve never said that I was in favor of banning the development of GMOs. My position has merely been that the people who want to ban GMOs are not necessarily irrational. If I ran a grant-making NGO, I wouldn’t give any money for GMOs, because the problems they’re supposed to fix are easily solvable by less-risky measures. But that’s a far cry from banning the practice outright.

        Kazzy, I would argue that providing support for fruit and vegetable cultivation IS an “iterative step”. It takes 117 days to grow a golden rice crop? That’s wonderful. You can harvest a watermelon patch in about half that time, depending on the variety. How many people do you know who don’t like watermelon? And in that scenario, you could actually be confident that you’d improve the Vitamin A status of the consumers. There was a study in Africa where one village was educated about Vitamin A deficiency and good crops to eat to avoid it, like squash, yams, and pawpaw. The neighboring village served as a control group. At the end of the 20-month experiment, the villagers who were educated about Vitamin A produce had significantly improved markers for Vitamin A deficiency, while the control group did not. This is about as good as this kind of research gets without running into huge ethical concerns. There are no comparable studies for the efficacy of golden rice in improving Vitamin A status over ANY timespan, much less the relatively short 20 months in this experiment.

        http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/5/1048.fullReport

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        @robert-greer

        First, large scale grain production is the sign of stable economies & polities. Large scale fruit/veggie production follows that. What the trouble areas have is much closer to subsistence farming, where they are only growing enough for themselves or their little community.

        I agree with both @kazzy & @james-hanley.

        In short, you are right in the big picture sense. Fruits & veggies are the ideal way to solve this problem, and if we could just go in, knock some sense into people, and get everything moving along swimmingly, I’d be right there next to you. But we have some very stark examples of not only how poorly we actually can do that, but also how negatively others react when we do.

        Since we can not just waltz in & impose our will, we have to find alternatives that have a substantial probability of working. Something like Golden Rice is a feasible alternative. It may not be the best nutritional item, but it has other qualities that, in situations like these, make it the best option.

        Think of it like MREs in the military. They are not the best way to feed troops in the field. They are a far cry better than C-rations, but still pale in comparison to fresh meals. Still, they will keep a soldier on his feet and moving/fighting until something better can be arranged.

        Golden Rice keeps these people alive and going while other efforts try to fix the larger systemic problems.Report

      • Avatar M. Martinez in reply to Robert Greer
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        says:

        Kazzy, how hard is it for people to plant some carrots? Most people in Asia aren’t doing it because they simply lack education. They have the seeds, the space, and the time, they just don’t understand the problem. It would be far easier to promote local gardens with a variety of vegetables to augment their monoculture farming done for profit, than to introduce a potentially dangerous GMO strain of rice.

        Why dangerous? Health issues that may or may not have been given due diligence aside, if this “Golden Rice” contaminates native species they will become useless for bringing to the market, as no one will buy them. This will utterly destroy what little these people have – unless of course the big plan is to contaminate all native rice and make consumers accept GMO as a daily and universal reality – and in that case I guess we just stumbled on the real agenda behind Golden Rice – opening markets by exploiting human misery, not saving kids.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        Martinez,
        It’s you who lack education.
        Carrots are both native to asia (’round Afghanistan),
        and China is the largest producer.

        Carrots do not fix poverty.
        It’s two fucking dollars a shot, to save a kid from going blind for a year.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        as long as people are informed about the potential risks and benefits of both

        Sure, I’m fine with telling them that scientific studies have established that there are no known health risks, but a bunch of cranks think that there maybe could be based on vague kinda sciency sounding word-strings. Totally cool with it.Report

  20. Avatar M. Martinez
    Ignored
    says:

    I find the blind religious devotion to “science” (read: corporate R&D) very amusing. You guys might as well just go back to church and do your little songs and dances while you’re at it. Irrational cult that believes everything it is told via “peer reviewed” papers which take the place of your Bibles, the lobbyists (the choir), and paid pundits (the preachers).

    Here is a novel idea… how about thinking for yourself? Condemning corporate GMO is not condemning biotech in general. Biotech in the right hands has lots of potential. Right now it is in the wrong hands. Real progress is being impeded – if you really cared about “science” and not your cult of corporate R&D, you’d point out abuses and advocate democratizing the technology.

    If you talk to me about how great “Golden Rice” and “Super Bananas” are, you might as well start singing me a tune from a church hymnal.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to M. Martinez
      Ignored
      says:

      SBD.
      (Yes, the fart joke is topical, i swear to god).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to M. Martinez
      Ignored
      says:

      Here is a novel idea… how about thinking for yourself?

      By which you mean, agree with you, rather than think about it and come up with different conclusions?Report

      • Avatar M. Martinez in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Or maybe not holding up “peer reviewed papers” that can and have been compromised up as you do the Bible. How about that? To look at the history of special interests and to believe that all the sudden after centuries of horrific exploitative abuses they are all the sudden somehow enlightened is the height of madness and proves you are not as clever as you think you are (or pretend to be).

        To think these fake-scientists are somehow above reproach is amusing as well, look at GSK getting caught in a global bribery scandal worth billions. They even tried to bribe the police in China that were investigating them for bribery! Then they illegally hired investigators to sort out the whistleblower. These are people you trust with science, technology and progress? Wouldn’t it be better if the technology was democratized rather than patented and monopolized?

        That you just sit there making juvenile jokes instead of intellectually refuting or discussing what I wrote says you are not actually genuinely interested in the truth, but rather promoting a certain point of view you may or may not believe in but certainly find profitable to peddle.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        By which you mean, agree with you, rather than think about it and come up with different conclusions?

        Funny, I was thinking the same thing.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        @m-martinez

        Or maybe not holding up “peer reviewed papers” that can and have been compromised up as you do the Bible. How about that? To look at the history of special interests and to believe that all the sudden after centuries of horrific exploitative abuses they are all the sudden somehow enlightened is the height of madness and proves you are not as clever as you think you are (or pretend to be).

        When I think of a group of people that shamelessly cling to scientific papers that have been compromised to an extent so pathetic that it personally sickens me (disclosure – my youngest son is on the spectrum), the first name that comes to my mind is Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his merry band of moron apologists.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to M. Martinez
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      says:

      I would love someone to tell me how to think for myself. (hat tip Brian)Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M. Martinez
      Ignored
      says:

      Blind devotion to science…

      What’s my handle again?

      Mad… Rocket… Sci… Oh, yeahReport

  21. Avatar Dave
    Ignored
    says:

    @davidtc

    Did you just *sarcastically* suggest that voter’s shouldn’t be able to run roughshod over the rights of minorities?

    You’re missing his point, and he has a good one. See, I think both people like you, at least with the issue at hand, and the anti-SSM crowd have something in common – both the pro-labeling and the anti-SSM see something in the world that offends their squeamish sensibilities and believe that the best course of action is government regulation despite having absolutely no evidence to support their misguided beliefs that the issue that offends them causes no harm. Having read your comments here, I see you as the type of person that has never met a problem that government can’t fix. The conversation you and I had on mortgage-backed securities about a year ago cemented that view in my mind.

    Or do you think that requiring a single extra food label, in a world where food sellers are *already* required to do all sorts of tests and define nutritional information, is somehow infringing on the rights of minorities?

    No. Labeling can be justified on grounds of public health. Given the lack of any justification on public health grounds, I see this as a complete non-starter. Of course, customers can demand labeling and companies can voluntarily meet that demand, but absent that any justification on health grounds, GMO labeling, like SSM bans, are nothing more than arbitrary laws aimed to appease the personal preference and squeamish sensibilities of certain portions of the American public. Personally, I couldn’t give a flying fish about your preferences or anyone else’s when the discussion boils down to appropriate levels of regulations. You can’t make an argument out of necessity so you attempt it as a matter of convenience. Color me unconvinced.

    Or is your analogy just completely stupid?

    He’s right on a target that may have been placed over your head. Usually that happens to me given that I’m 5’5″.

    Of course voters can’t literally get any law they want, the constitution and amendments and basic justice forbids certain laws…

    And this was mentioned where?

    but they certain can get *trivial food labeling* if they want it. There’s no constitutional or moral argument against that.

    The same was said for Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban. The constitutional case against a GMO label is that it’s not rationally related to any other legitimate interest related to food labeling, those interests being health and safety related. That is, unless you can come up with the evidence.

    And yet another stupid analogy. Liberals think repealing those laws would harm workers. So I’ll ask, knowing you won’t answer: What harm, exactly, do you think requiring labeling on GMOs would do?

    Who cares what I think or what Heffman thinks? The question is whether or not YOU can demonstrate the necessity of such labeling. You haven’t at this point and you won’t because, again, no evidence exists.

    You might think it would make no difference at all, in which case, why not require it?

    In which case, why require it at all? If it makes no difference, then there’s no need. Period.

    As I said, we require food sellers to do complicated nutritional testing for the rest of their label, and we already require them to keep track of their food supply and what they put in the food they sell…

    For valid reasons…

    so simply slapping an extra label on the nutritional label is functionally no work….

    Work done for no reason other than to let the anti-GMO crowd sleep at night knowing that they’ve stuck it to big-Agra and corporate America. I can’t think of any other good reason to do “functionally no work” since those labels will do nothing more than take up space on a package. It’s not like they’re protecting anyone from anything other than imaginary boogeymen.

    Or you think it would make a difference, that people would choose not to eat GMO foods if we told them, in which case you think corporate profits are more important than people making choices about what food they put in their body.

    If people think it’s going to make a difference, it’s all in their heads. Seriously. Like James said, I find the anti-GMO sentiment to be about as obnoxious as the anti-vaxxers or the even more repugnant “pro-supplements” crowd that reflexively hates anything big-Pharma supports. I’ll leave them to their misguided views. Given what I’ve seen on social media about this issue, one has to have his or her head in the sand in order to not get informed.

    If the best you can do is impugn people that don’t agree with you by saying they favor corporate profits over public health, I think that says a lot about the weakness of your argument. It’s not a statement made in bad faith but it is yet another instance of you attempting to shift the burden to people to explain to you why we SHOULDN’T label foods when you have absolutely no case defending why we SHOULD except for the fact that a 50%+1 democratic majority may want. Again, you may want to re-read @jim-heffman ‘s analogies and look closely in the mirror.

    It either is something people care about, in which case, if they want to know it, they have a right to demand they are informed.

    Respectfully, given the typical American diet, if this is what people are focusing on, their priorities are fished.

    Or it’s not something people care about (Just a vocal minority), in which case, it’s a trivial nutritional label redesign by the FDA of the sort that happens twice a decade anyway and, for once, requires no real testing or work, and the words ‘Contains GMOs’ will just sit there right under ‘Protein 0g’.

    So trivial that it completely unnecessary, unless you can argue otherwise.

    Ball’s in your court.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dave
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      says:

      You’re missing his point, and he has a good one. See, I think both people like you, at least with the issue at hand, and the anti-SSM crowd have something in common – both the pro-labeling and the anti-SSM see something in the world that offends their squeamish sensibilities and believe that the best course of action is government regulation despite having absolutely no evidence to support their misguided beliefs that the issue that offends them causes no harm.

      Yes, the two sides have something in common in that they want pointless laws.

      What those two sides do not have in common is the amount of harm those laws would do, or whether or not such laws are constitutional under the equal protection clause.

      No. Labeling can be justified on grounds of public health. Given the lack of any justification on public health grounds, I see this as a complete non-starter.

      Labels are ‘justified’ if the american people want labels. Labels do not need ‘justification’.

      If you’re trying to make the claim they’re ‘forced speech’ under the first amendment, I don’t actually remember a first amendment exception for health grounds, so I have no idea how you think that ‘justification’ works for requiring any labels at all. If you actually believe that, you logically have staked out a position that all labeling rules are unconstitutional. (And, hell, so are mandatory home inspections and MPG labeling for cars and all sorts of things.)

      Luckily, that entire concept is bogus…corporations are free to make any sort of ‘food labeling’ they want and sell it. They have a first amendment right to do that.

      What they can’t do is sell *food* without specific labels. If they want to sell empty cans and boxes with non-compliant labels, they can go right ahead.

      The courts have pretty consistently upheld the idea that laws can require sellers to disclose specific, truthful information. (In fact, they sometimes let the law get away with requiring sellers to say lies, also, but that’s another topic.)

      Personally, I couldn’t give a flying fish about your preferences or anyone else’s when the discussion boils down to appropriate levels of regulations.

      Ah, yes, you don’t care about ‘anyone else’s’ preferences.

      How anti-democratic of you.

      If the American people want something (Or, rather, elect people who want that thing), and that thing is not an infringement of rights (like blocking same sex marriages is), the American people get that thing. That’s how it works.

      Everything else in your post is just you trying to explain why we shouldn’t be a democracy because you think a specific law would be stupid. Tough shit.

      You can’t make an argument out of necessity so you attempt it as a matter of convenience.

      If the American people want something, it’s the people who disagree that have to explain why such a thing should not be allowed under some constitutional theory.

      The US government can regulate interstate commerce, which even I will admit sometimes is used a bit broadly, but GMO foods pretty clearly fit under there. (I mean, at least *one* person…the GMO seed provider, the farm, the corporation that owns the farm, the food manufacturer, the consumer…*someone* there is going to be in another state.)

      It’s not a statement made in bad faith but it is yet another instance of you attempting to shift the burden to people to explain to you why we SHOULDN’T label foods when you have absolutely no case defending why we SHOULD except for the fact that a 50%+1 democratic majority may want.

      If you don’t like democracy, move to some other country.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to DavidTC
        Ignored
        says:

        @davidtc

        Yes, the two sides have something in common in that they want pointless laws.

        Yes, and if a proposed law is pointless, I’m not going to support it. You want GMO labeling, prove its necessity and try not to suggest I move to another country this time.

        What those two sides do not have in common is the amount of harm those laws would do, or whether or not such laws are constitutional under the equal protection clause.

        Good. So this only means that your form of majoritarianism is not as unbridled as the other kind because the other kind seeks to hurt people. I should take comfort knowing that you have our best interests in mind when you advocate for pointless regulations on bullshit grounds. Got it.

        Labels are ‘justified’ if the american people want labels. Labels do not need ‘justification’.

        Our views on this matter are going to be completely irreconcilable. In other words, if the American people want same sex marriage bans, they’re entitled to it. To you, law’s only limiting principle is numerical majorities, and I find your attempts to invoke the Constitution to put yourself on the side of all that’s good and righteous be misguided and inconsistent.

        If you’re trying to make the claim they’re ‘forced speech’ under the first amendment

        I did no such thing.

        ..so I have no idea how you think that ‘justification’ works for requiring any labels at all…

        I don’t have any idea either seeing as I didn’t think it.

        If you actually believe that…

        I don’t.

        you logically have staked out a position that all labeling rules are unconstitutional…

        I didn’t. By the way, I think the strawman you made needs to be a bit shorter so it matches my height. You got the good looks down though. That’s one of the most handsome strawmen I have ever seen. 😉

        Luckily, that entire concept is bogus…

        Fortunately, I knew better than to make that argument.

        corporations are free to make any sort of ‘food labeling’ they want and sell it. They have a first amendment right to do that.

        Broadly speaking, yes.

        What they can’t do is sell *food* without specific labels. If they want to sell empty cans and boxes with non-compliant labels, they can go right ahead.

        And I have provided justification in defense of food labeling laws on health grounds. Again, I have no problem with disclosure laws so long as the required disclosures relay material information to consumers that pertain to certain criteria. There are so many health-related reasons to warrant disclosing ingredients and macronutritional content that I can write several paragraphs on the subject just as a summary.

        As @james-hanley wrote above, good information makes markets function and information related to calories, protein, carbs, fats, sodium, cholesterol, vitamins, etc, at least in theory, go a long way to aid consumers to make informed decisions (whether they do is a whole other topic). The idea that I have a problem with nutritional labeling, especially setting aside my politics and waving my “health and fitness junkie” flag, is patently absurd, especially with the amount of food that is prepackaged, processed and sold. Unfortunately, most of us don’t buy most of our food along the edges of the grocery store so to speak.

        The courts have pretty consistently upheld the idea that laws can require sellers to disclose specific, truthful information.

        Did I argue otherwise? I didn’t think so.

        (In fact, they sometimes let the law get away with requiring sellers to say lies, also, but that’s another topic.)

        Actually, it may be relevant. Please provide examples.

        Ah, yes, you don’t care about ‘anyone else’s’ preferences.

        So what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander?

        https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2013/06/13/finance-discussion-continued#comment-555221

        About a year ago, we were discussing mortgage-backed securities markets and you staked out a position where you were attempting to force me to justify to you why the mortgage backed securities “had to exist”. My response to you was to point out the number of investors that value the asset class and gave reasons and your response was:

        I GIVE EXACTLY NO FUCKS ABOUT INVESTORS.

        Seeing as you obviously don’t care about the preferences of people that choose to invest in a market that they know more about than you did, I guess it’s time for me to say

        “Ah, yes, you don’t care about ‘anyone else’s’ preferences. How anti-democratic of you.

        What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

        If the American people want something (Or, rather, elect people who want that thing), and that thing is not an infringement of rights (like blocking same sex marriages is), the American people get that thing. That’s how it works.

        Yes, the people demanded the Guns Free School Zone Act, they got it. It violated the rights of no one and it remains good constitutional law to this day, or does it? I better freshen up on United States v Lopez.

        Question – would you support a government-mandated diet? If not, why not?

        Everything else in your post is just you trying to explain why we shouldn’t be a democracy because you think a specific law would be stupid. Tough shit.

        You have a vivid imagination, and yes, it would be a stupid law that caters to the offended sensibilities of stupid people that think that this is going to make one bit of a fishing difference.

        This is great. We as a society will be much better off if consumers know in advance which brands of soda use high fructose corn syrup made from GMO corn so they can buy their soda that does not contain GMO ingredients. All in the name of what’s best for the consumer.

        Heckuva job!!!

        If the American people want something, it’s the people who disagree that have to explain why such a thing should not be allowed under some constitutional theory.

        No. The government has to provide justification. In most cases, the threshold is very low (rational basis), but in other case it’s much higher (intermediate scrutiny or strict scrutiny). As far as I can tell, most if not all cases involving economic regulation fall under a rational basis test. Yes, the government would have to provide justification for GMO labeling but it would likely face a pretty low threshold. Even if a GMO labeling law was ruled constitutional, it would not change my opposition to it.

        The US government can regulate interstate commerce, which even I will admit sometimes is used a bit broadly

        I have to admit that I can’t believe that you just said this given your political views. I thought you were a card carrying member of the “General Welfare” club like most other liberals.

        …*someone* there is going to be in another state

        That doesn’t even limit the reach of the Commerce Clause anymore per Wickard v Fillburn and Gonzales v Raich.

        If you don’t like democracy, move to some other country.

        You could have at least said Somalia.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        Yes, and if a proposed law is pointless, I’m not going to support it.

        That was NOT the issue. The issue *actually* under discussion is whether or not such a law is allowed.

        You can feel free not to support such a law all you want. Feel free to campaign against it, and call it stupid. I have stated no opposition to that.

        So what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander?

        You know, reading that article made me crack up. Because you know what I *literally* said in that post? Here, let me quote myself:

        I guess it _is_ up to me, along with every other voter, to decide which securities can legally be sold in this country.

        Just like I said that it is up to me, along with every other voter, to decide how food should be labeled. (Or even if GMO food can be sold at all.)

        I like how you think that makes me inconsistent. (Why this doesn’t make you, arguing against me, also inconsistent, is unknown.)

        Voters have a right to get whatever constitutional laws they want, even if such laws inconvenience business practices. Now, obviously, there are due process concerns and whatnot, (Along with a question of which is the appropriate level of government to do that at, but with GMO foods we are indisputably talking about interstate commerce.) but generally, voters get the laws they want, not only as a statement of how the system works, but as a moral principle in a classically liberal republic.

        Yes, the people demanded the Guns Free School Zone Act, they got it. It violated the rights of no one and it remains good constitutional law to this day, or does it? I better freshen up on United States v Lopez.

        I don’t understand this aside. I don’t remember saying anything about the Guns Free School Zone Act, or particularly caring about it. If it’s unconstitutional, it will presumably be struck down. You want to argue that it’s unconstitutional despite the courts not striking it down, well, maybe it is, but that’s not particularly relevant here.

        Our views on this matter are going to be completely irreconcilable. In other words, if the American people want same sex marriage bans, they’re entitled to it.

        I have no idea how you think ‘if the American people want same sex marriage bans, they’re entitled to it’ is another way to phrase ‘Our views on this matter are going to be completely irreconcilable.’

        However, that second statement is wrong. Americans are not ‘entitled’ (By which I assume you mean ‘constitutionally able to pass and enforce’) to same sex marriage bans unless they repeal the equal protection clause of 14th amendment, because same sex marriage bans unfairly discriminate based on gender.

        I guess, strictly speaking, voters are entitled to repeal the 14th amendment.

        I have to admit that I can’t believe that you just said this given your political views. I thought you were a card carrying member of the “General Welfare” club like most other liberals.

        I said that ‘interstate commerce’ is overused, not ‘general welfare’. I think a lot of stuff that is currently considered to be under the ‘interstate commerce’ really should be under ‘general welfare’.

        That said, I don’t think the Federal government has a right to interject itself into local markets. (OTOH, there aren’t actually that many intrastate local markets to start with.)

        Question – would you support a government-mandated diet? If not, why not?

        Wrong question. Of course I would not *support* such a thing. The question I think you mean to be asking is if such a thing would be *constitutional*.

        And my answer is: No, I do not think it would be constitutional, although I have no evidence of that. It would probably be struck down in basically the same way that sodomy laws were…the courts conclude that some areas are simply off-limits for the law because enforcement of laws is not possible without seriously infringements on privacy.

        OTOH, strictly speaking, we *do* have a government-mandated diet, if you phrase drug laws as ‘It is legal to injest everything, in any amount, except these certain substances, which you can’t injest any of’. Drug laws, of course, have exactly the same level of intrusiveness that sodomy laws had, and yet the court seems to like them for no obvious reason.

        No. The government has to provide justification. In most cases, the threshold is very low (rational basis), but in other case it’s much higher (intermediate scrutiny or strict scrutiny). As far as I can tell, most if not all cases involving economic regulation fall under a rational basis test.

        Rational basis review is the lowest level of scrutiny that applies to constitutional questions. Unless you want to change your answer to ‘Requiring corporations to print things on packages is a first amendment violation’ (No matter how slight), there’s no reason for the government to have to pass the rational basis standard.

        The government does not have to have a rational basis for laws that do not impinge upon people’s rights. It doesn’t have to have any basis at all.

        That said, as you point out, the rational basis bar is pretty damn low anyway, and GMO labeling would fit under it just fine. The rational basis would be ‘This label exists to stop people who do not wish to eat GMO food from eating GMO food’…that is an entirely rational reason for a law, and the law appears to competently succeed in those goals.

        ‘Rational basis’, as I think you know, doesn’t care if the goal actually accomplishes anything. It just cares that the law, in some logical manner, is aimed *towards* that goal, and that the goal is something permissible for the government.

        To you, law’s only limiting principle is numerical majorities, and I find your attempts to invoke the Constitution to put yourself on the side of all that’s good and righteous be misguided and inconsistent.

        Huh? You complain in a single sentence about how I think the *only* limit on the law is numerical majority, and then say that I shouldn’t be invoking the constitution as something that can restrict laws.

        I will hereby state definitively: I believe that the only limit on laws in this country is, indeed, the voter’s will, as expressed within the framework required by the constitution.

        I don’t see how you disagree with this. You might disagree with what’s allowed by the constitution, but the constitution is the framework, and the voters, in some sort of majority-ish manner (electors and districts and jerrymandering and presidental vetos and other things that make us not exactly ‘majority-ruled’ whatnot nonwithstanding) fill in that framework with laws. (And sometimes they venture outside the framework, and have to be corrected.)Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Dave
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      says:

      A comment on the likely real world effects of labeling.

      It’s now required that fast food joints post calorie and nutrition information, but the data on consumer use of that infirmation is mixed. Overall, it may have minimal impact on consumer behavior.

      California requires labels warning about the presence of cancer causing chemicals. It seems most buildings in CA that you go into today have the sign by the front door, but it might as well be written in Swahili for all the effect it has on people’s behavior. I think once people realized every place you go has cancer causing chemicals, there was no point in stressing yourself worrying about trying to avoid them.

      More labels = more information overload = fewer people paying attention = minimal effect of labeling. I say go ahead and label, and watch the public tune out after a few years.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        caveat venditorReport

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        It’s now required that fast food joints post calorie and nutrition information, but the data on consumer use of that infirmation is mixed. Overall, it may have minimal impact on consumer behavior.

        It wouldn’t surprise me. Calorie information is already provided on other food products and people ignore that.

        I don’t find the calorie disclosure requirement all that helpful because it’s just a number and I don’t track my food intake using calorie amounts but rather macros. The restaurants don’t disclose the macros at the stores (although I believe a few fast food restaurants have brochures with more detailed nutritional information).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        One of the problems I remember reading about was people using the calorie information to improve their bang for the buck. Would you rather have 550 calories for 2 bucks or 500 calories for 2 bucks? You’re no slouch! You don’t want to get ripped off by the man! You get the 550!

        And the busybodies said “but that’s not why we made them post the numbers!”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Some people do read nutritional labels though. Mostly people have certain health problems who need to be careful about their diets. The wife and I read labels, she does more than i since she has some of the aforementioned health crap. But for some they are useful. They serve a purpose and if everybody doesn’t use them thats fine also.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        It’s now required that fast food joints post calorie and nutrition information, but the data on consumer use of that infirmation is mixed. Overall, it may have minimal impact on consumer behavior.

        This is probably true only in a generational sense.

        More labels = more information overload = fewer people paying attention = minimal effect of labeling.

        That’s true inside a particular cohort of longitudinal folks. My own (admittedly sparse) reading of labeling cases leads me to suspect that:

        (a) labeling lowers the barrier for consumption of information – potentially good
        (b) willingness to seek out new information is correlated with age – potentially limiting
        (c) thus, effective labeling will produce only long term behavioral change

        Old folks don’t change behavior that they’ve been engaged in for a long time just on the basis of availability of new information, because they don’t necessarily digest it (haw, food joke!)

        Young folks may.

        That, in and of itself, is open to a wide variety of conclusions because there are labels that work well and labels that don’t, from a persuasiveness angle, and the types of labels that we get aren’t always driven positively by that.Report

      • Avatar trumwill in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Though I have read that in the aggregate the nutritional labels don’t seem to do much good, like Greg I do use them and appreciate their presence.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Old folks don’t change behavior that they’ve been engaged in for a long time just on the basis of availability of new information, because they don’t necessarily digest it (haw, food joke!)

        And in the end, it’s just a bunch of crap.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @greginak

        Some people do read nutritional labels though. Mostly people have certain health problems who need to be careful about their diets. The wife and I read labels, she does more than i since she has some of the aforementioned health crap. But for some they are useful. They serve a purpose and if everybody doesn’t use them thats fine also.

        I make my food decisions based on what’s on the labels and I find the current disclosures as informative as I need them to be.

        Then again, I keep a spreadsheet that has all the macro information for the food items in my typical daily diet so I kind of track this stuff more than most. I don’t it because I have health issues. I do it because I don’t want any.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @mike-schilling

        That joke really stinks.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        Is the caloric-posting universal now? I know NY requires it of chains with X number of locations (I believe it’s 5, but it could be more). And I’m sure it is spread beyond that. But I don’t know if it is a universal thing now.

        For me, I ignore them, primarily because if I go to McDonalds or the like — something I rarely do — it’s usually because I’ve consciously decided to forgo any notion of having a healthy meal. Sometimes I need fatboy time. We all do.

        I do find them interesting to look at at Starbucks. I don’t really drink coffee, so I was surprised to see that black coffee has a negligible amount of calories (though it makes sense, given that you’re really just steeping the beans and not really contributing anything substantive to the water). So you’ll see a black coffee has 5 calories and a salted caramel whipped mocha frappelatte or whatever has 475 and you realize, “Holy shit… they added 470 calories of shit to that drink!”

        I’m not quite sure what @dave means by macros, but I tend to focus on things like fat, carbs, fiber, and protein when reading a nutritional label. But even that is rare because I don’t buy a ton of processed stuff.

        The biggest thing for me (and what helped me lose close to 30 pounds over the last 8 months) is portion size. Now I eat like a normal person instead of a starved bear.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Tea has basically no caloric content either, which is why if you look at the info on a bottle of Snapple, you realize that it’s slightly tea-flavored sugar water.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        What?! But ever since the Vitaminwater scandal, I’ve been drinking Snapple for the health benefits! You know, ‘a Snapple a day, keeps the doctor away’, just like grandma always said! I want an investigation into this immediately!Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        @kazzy

        What you’re describing are the macros. This is the most important measure to me because it’s helped me dial in the appropriate ratio of fat, carbs and protein. As I’m trying to lean myself out a bit more, tracking macros helps me make sure I get an appropriate amount of protein (which, for me, is approximately 250 grams a day).

        I’m within a couple of pounds of my weight at college graduation (that puts me 35 lbs below my high). Like you, smaller portions helped me along with multiple meals (I eat 5 to 6 times a day). The large amount of protein keeps my appetite in check as does a little coffee.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        Huzzah, @dave ! Glad to know I’ve stumbled upon something that seems like a reasonable approach.Report

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